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India supported us without conditions  – Milinda

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Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India Milinda Moragoda has lauded New Delhi’s support to his country which came without “condition” and the package was “extremely flexible

India last year gave financial support of USD 4 billion as the country underwent a major economic crisis. Speaking to our diplomatic correspondent Sidhant Sibal, High Commissioner Moragoda said, “India helped us to stabilise the economy and the country “reached out to the IMF and some of the bilateral partners like Japan.”

Essentially, India was Sri Lanka’s first creditor nation to support its debt restructuring which will soon pave the way for an IMF bailout. The country requires the support of all its major creditors, including China to get IMF support. On China extending its support for debt restructuring, he said, “China has given a letter but it is at the moment not sufficient to meet the requirements of what the IMF is expecting. So this discussion is still ongoing.”

The high commissioner pointed to high-level visits between the two sides, including by Sri Lankan Petroleum to India and the annual defence dialogue later this month. On the visit of the Chinese spy ship Yuan Wang 5, the envoy explained that “the lesson we have learnt is that we have to ensure that there is constant communication, unambiguous and frank communication”

This was the first TV interview of the high commissioner where he also spoke on Indian conglomerate Adani Group’s investment in the western container terminal, cultural connect and implementation of the 13th amendment.”

When asked about Sri Lanka’s current economic situation, envoy Moragoda pointed out that the reasons are multifaceted including Covid pandemic, the Ukraine war and a situation where Colombo was not able to pay its debt.

“We had over-borrowed, and we had not worked out enough ways to pay back. India stepped in very quickly,” he said adding that it was “extremely flexible” because had the country gone to any other institution like IMF at that time they would have wanted it to go through a whole process. “India instead, basically backed through different instruments,” the envoy said praising aid received from India.

He also appreciated India for reaching out to the international community including Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman urging IMF in Washington to help the island nation hit by the economic crisis.

On sprucing up the flow of tourists from India, the High Commissioner told WION that Sri Lanka’s tourism ministry is actually working on it as India is the main market. “We are also looking at increasing connectivity and have been speaking in the leaders in the aviation sector here, to see what will it take for more Indian airlines to fly to Sri Lanka, what are the obstacles,” he said.

High Commissioner also spoke on the defence partnership between the two nations. “On maritime surveillance and Dornier, we already have one and discussions about a second because that was part of the arrangement we agreed on.”

Replying to a question about any concerns over Adani projects, High Commissioner said, “As of now, not. That is a very good project, and the Adani group is very strong in that particular sector. It is interesting, the statistic is 80% of trade, business done by Colombo port is transhipment business, and 70% goes to India. Colombo port’s main business is with India. 35% of that 70% is already going to Adani ports, Adani-controlled ports. From a Business point of view, it is a perfect fit. So, therefore, we are not concerned about it.”

(wionews.com)

(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by wionews.com has not been edited by SLM staff)

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Retired Major and Agent Arrested for Recruiting Sri Lankan Mercenaries for Russian Army

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The Human Trafficking, Human Smuggling and Maritime Crime Investigation Division (CID) arrested a retired major and an employment agent, identified as leaders of an organized scheme that recruited retired military personnel as mercenaries for the Russian army.

These two suspects were remanded till May 2 upon being produced before Negombo Magistate’s Court yesterday evening.

Investigations have revealed that the agency was promoted by young women, including popular actresses currently featured in well-known television dramas.

It is alleged that they deceived these individuals, promising them employment in Europe with work visas, ultimately defrauding them of significant sums of money.

The arrests occurred at the residences of the suspects in Wariyapola and Digana, respectively.

The arrested Major, previously a member of the Army Special Forces, is identified as Wijebandara and the agent is named Bandula.

According to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), these arrests are part of a broader operation, with additional suspects expected to be detained.

The CID has also uncovered that Chathuranga, who operated a large-scale agency on Katugastota Road in Kandy, is a key figure in this racket. He has reportedly fled to Russia and is currently in hiding.

Further revelations indicate that the recruited ex-military personnel were sent to Russia under the guise of performing maintenance work at military camps, but were instead employed as frontline mercenaries. A retired corporal, who managed to escape from the Russian mercenary force, disclosed that around 500 Sri Lankans are engaged in military activities within the Russian forces. This information led to the arrests of Wijebandara and Bandula.

The investigation has also highlighted that many of those recruited into the Russian mercenary forces from Sri Lanka, particularly from commando and special forces backgrounds, were ostensibly hired for non-combatant roles but were ultimately used in active military operations. According to the escaped corporal, those attempting to flee were either shot or captured and imprisoned.

This same corporal disclosed that his deployment was orchestrated by the retired Major from Wariyapola and that the logistics for his travel to Russia was arranged by Bandula and Chathuranga. The group of 37, including the corporal, departed for Russia from Katunayake International Airport on February 24. They have all retired from military service. The return of the corporal to Sri Lanka on March 1 was facilitated by the Red Cross and the Russian Embassy. He also revealed that two of his companions, who fled with him, have been captured by Russian forces and are currently detained in a military facility.

It has been reported that two Sri Lankans were killed in a drone attack by the Russian army in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on March 8 of the previous year, following the deaths of two others in Russia from an attack by Ukraine.

(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by dailynews.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)

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Man arrested over selling overpriced Vadai to tourist

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The Tourist Police in Moragolla has arrested a man over selling an overpriced Vadai and tea to a foreign  tourist in Kalutara.

Footage of the incident had sparked public ire after going viral online.

It has been revealed that the suspect is a 60 year old residing in Kalutara and is usually seen loitering near the eatery.

Police say that investigtations have revealed that he had duped foreigners visiting the eatery many times.

He is to be produced before the Kalutara Magistrate Court tomorrow (April 19).

It is also reported that officials of the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) and the Moragolla Tourist police have also arrived at the eatery, and sternly advised the owner after questioning him.

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NPP’s 7-point statement on Easter attacks, presented to the Cardinal

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The National People’s Power (NPP) today (April 18) presented to Archbishop of Colombo – Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, their 7-point statement pledging to mete out justice to the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks.

The statement included key points such as implementing law against those responsible for the attacks so as to mete out justice to those who lost lives in the attacks and family members of the victims and to take action against those who were directly or indirectly involved in the attacks.

NPP members Professor Krishantha Abeysinghe, Attorney-at-Law Sunil Watagala, President’s Counsel Upul Kumarapperuma, Rohan Fernando and Aruna Shantha Nonis participated in the occasion.

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