Today regional US Assistant Secretary Robert Blake met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for breakfast (news.lk). He is scheduled to hold a press conference which the Sunday Leader will report on shortly. The US Embassy has recently announced a one million Rupee (maximum) grant program for youth 15-25 willing to work on development and rights issues.
Despite ongoing controversy about the Secretary General’s panel, UN Resident Coordinator Neil Buhne has assured Minister G.L. Peiris that their aid programs would continue unabated. The UN was hit with further controversy at home with a departing Under Secretary General calling Ban Ki-moon’s leadership deplorable.
The UN spokesman yesterday confirmed that the Panel was meeting in New York and said “The Chief of Staff of the Panel of Experts, which is under the umbrella of OHCHR [Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights], is Richard Bennett, who until now was the Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal.”
This means that the Panel falls under the purview of Under-Secretary Navi Pillay, a longstanding proponent of human rights investigation into Sri Lanka. She has stirred controversy in Sri Lanka before by calling for investigations, prompting Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe to say “Ms. Navi Pillai made some unwarranted and subjective comments about Sri Lanka.”
Indian police broke up a gold smuggling racket between Colombo and Tiruchi. The suspects were caught with around 5kg of gold biscuits concealed in their rectums.
A group of 5 Sri Lankan TNA MPs met Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi at his residence. Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was also scheduled to be in India and meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other officials.
In Colombo, Indian High Commissioner Ashok K. Kantha spoke to the Ceylon Chamber Of Commerce. He said “India and Sri Lanka have recovered from the global crisis and are poised to accelerate economic growth.” In related economic news, Indian beverage firm Tunip Agro has announced a joint venture in Sri Lanka worth about 342 million Indian rupees.
A Tamil gang-leader deported from Canada is reportedly in hiding in Sri Lanka with his lawyer requesting that the Canadian government reopen the case.
Yesterday the President met the representatives of seven nations (Iran, Swaziland, Bhutan, Brunei, Armenia, Macedonia and Algeria) and received their credentials.