Meeting between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lankan fishermen ends inconclusively; Sri Lankan Government did not approve air strikes on Libya since they cause suffering to the people of that country; Sri Lankan Embassy in Libya shifted to Cairo; Sri Lanka pledges U
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  • Reports noted that the meeting between a delegation of Tamil Nadu fishermen and the Sri Lankan fishermen ended inconclusively on March 22, 2011. During the meeting, the Indian fishermen asked Sri Lanka’s Northern fishermen to give them more time to stop fishing in Lanka’s territorial waters. The Indian fishermen said the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) -- the fisheries development arm of the Indian government was training them in tuna fishing. Once the training was completed, the fishermen from Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram, Rameswaram and Nagapattinam, would engage in deep-sea fishing and as such saw no need to fish in Sri Lankan waters.1

    In his speech during the debate on the military attack on Libya, the External Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka, Prof Peiris said that Sri Lankan Government did not approve air strikes on Libya since they cause suffering to the people of that country. Prof. Peiris said that the fundamental objective of the UN Security Council resolution was to protect civilian lives, and any action that went beyond its mandate was unwarranted.2 Meanwhile, according to the External Affairs Ministry, operations of the Sri Lankan embassy in Libya have been shifted to Cairo and the Ambassador serving in Libya is travelling back to Sri Lanka.3

    Reports noted that Sri Lanka has pledged US$ 1 million to Japan in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami. In parallel to the donation, Sri Lanka also offered to dispatch a team of medical professionals to help care for those who have been affected by the disaster along with a trained search and rescue team comprising armed forces personnel. The Sri Lankan government is ready to extend further assistance to the people of Japan if necessary.4 Meanwhile, Sri Lankan tea exporters have given three million tea bags to be sent to those who were affected by the tsunami and earthquake that in Japan.5 However, Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has taken immediate action to subject all cargo arriving from Japan, in and around the affected areas, to radiation checks at the Port of Colombo.6

    Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Kunio Takahashi and Dr. P. B. Jayasundera, Secretary, Ministry of Finance in Sri Lankan government signed the Exchange of Notes for a Japanese concessionary loan of Rs 44 billion. The agreement was also signed by Akira Shimura, Senior Representative of JICA on behalf of JICA. This loan package is provided annually by Government of Japan and this is the 41st Yen Loan Package and it would support the financing of two projects including Greater Colombo Urban Transport Development Phase 2 (II) and Vavuniya Kilinochchi Transmission Line Project (II).7

    According to reports, the ICRC has closed its office in Vavuniya, the last ICRC office still active in the north, after the Sri Lankan government requested the organization to run its operations exclusively from Colombo.8 However, Sri Lanka’s first ever coal power plant at Norochcholai constructed with a Chinese grant of US$455 million and a Sri Lankan government commitment of Rs.5.3 billion was commissioned by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on March 22.9

    In other developments, Norwegian Minister of International Development and former special peace envoy Erik Solheim met with representatives of the Tamil diaspora in Oslo. During the meeting, minister Solheim listened to the input from the Tamil groups and advised them to promote development and a political solution in Sri Lanka by engaging in dialogue with the Government of Sri Lanka.10