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Italy withdraws from China’s Belt and Road Initiative, reports say

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Italy has withdrawn from China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), more than four years after becoming the only Group of Seven (G7) nation to sign up.

After months of uncertainty regarding Italy’s involvement in the ambitious project, Rome conveyed its decision in a recent letter to Beijing, news agencies Reuters and AFP reported on Wednesday.

The Belt and Road plan proposes massive investments in infrastructure such as roads, bridges and ports to recreate the ancient Silk Road trade routes linking Europe and Asia.

Critics have cast the scheme as a vehicle for Beijing to expand its geopolitical influence, including by saddling poorer countries with unsustainable debts.

“We have every intention of maintaining excellent relations with China even if we are no longer part of the Belt and Road Initiative,” an Italian government source said.

“Other G7 nations have closer relations with China than we do, despite the fact they were never in [the BRI],” he added.

The long-anticipated decision was communicated to Beijing three days ago, according to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, which first reported the withdrawal.

In 2019, Italy became the first major Western nation to participate in the programme, despite US concerns about China gaining control over crucial technologies and infrastructure.

Nevertheless, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who took office last year, expressed a desire to withdraw, citing the lack of substantial benefits for Italy.

The 2019 agreement is set to expire in March 2024, with automatic renewal unless Rome provides three months’ written notice of withdrawal.

However, Rome has been wary of provoking Beijing and risking retaliation against Italian companies.

(aljazeera.com)

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Port City sea sand sent to Port construction?

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The Frontline Socialist Party made a disclosure concerning the alleged unauthorized use of construction materials at the Colombo Port City project, specifically in the construction of two terminals.

Frontline Socialist Party’s Education Secretary, Pubudu Jagoda,  raised concerns regarding the construction of the Port City in Sri Lanka, highlighting alleged irregularities in the procurement and use of construction materials by a Chinese company contracted for the project.

Jagoda asserts that the Chinese company, tasked with constructing the East Container Terminal and Jaya Container Terminal, has been involved in questionable practices.

According to Jagoda, the company has purportedly been transporting sea sand from the Port City area to the Colombo port, bypassing regulations and inspections. He claims to possess video evidence supporting these allegations.

The videos, according to Jagoda, depict the loading of sand from the Port City’s sand piles onto tipper trucks, which then enter the harbor without undergoing proper inspections or acquiring necessary permits. Additionally, he alleges that the sand, originally intended for the Port City’s construction, is being used in the Colombo Port’s development instead.

Jagoda further contends that approximately 4000 sand cubes are being transported from the Port City to the Colombo Port every month, with an estimated value of 90 million Sri Lankan rupees.

The Frontline Socialist Party Education Secretary questions why the Colombo Port security department has not intervened in these matters and calls for an investigation into the alleged breaches of protocol surrounding the procurement and transportation of construction materials for the Port City and Colombo Port projects.

Keith Barnard, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority stated that he was not aware of the allegations brought forth by Jagoda.

However, he assured that a formal investigation into the matter will be initiated promptly.

(News 1st)

(This story, originally published by News 1st has not been edited by SLM staff)

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IGP arrives before Supreme Court

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Newly appointed IGP Deshabandu Tennakoon arrived today before the Supreme Court in connection with several Fundamental Rights petitions challenging the President’s decision to appoint him as the Acting IGP.

(Daily mirror)

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Gunshots fired into air near tourist hotel in Wellawatta

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Two unidentified men on a motorcycle have fled after firing gunshots into the air in Wellawatta, the police reported.

The shooting took place in front of a tourist beach hotel located on Marine Drive in Wellawatte this morning (Feb.27).

According to the police media division, the suspects have used a T-56 assault rifle. Nine empty T-56 cartridge cases were found at the scene.

No fatalities were reported in the incident. Wellawatta Police has initiated an investigation to apprehend the gunman and the accomplice.

(adaderana.lk)

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