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China, India call for negotiated way out of Ukraine war

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Chinese FM Wang Yi calls on Russia and Ukraine to ‘keep the crisis from spilling over’ and from affecting developing countries.

(Al Jazeera) China and India have called for a negotiated end to the Ukraine war at the United Nations, stopping well short of robust support for traditional ally Russia.After a week of pressure at the UN General Assembly, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov delivered a fiery rebuke at Western nations on Saturday for what he called a “grotesque” campaign against Russians.

But no major nation has rallied behind Russia, including China, which just days before the February invasion of Ukraine pledged an “unbreakable” bond with President Vladimir Putin.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on Russia and Ukraine to “keep the crisis from spilling over” and from affecting developing countries.

“China supports all efforts conducive to the peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis.

The pressing priority is to facilitate talks for peace,” Wang said. “The fundamental solution is to address the legitimate security concerns of all parties and build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture.”

During his visit to the UN, Wang met Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in their first talks since the war began.Earlier this month, Putin acknowledged Chinese “concerns” about Ukraine during a meeting with his counterpart Xi Jinping.India, unlike China, has a warm relationship with the United States but it has historic ties with Russia, its traditional defence supplier.

“As the Ukraine conflict continues to rage, we are often asked whose side we are on,” said India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

“Our answer, each time, is straight and honest – India is on the side of peace and will remain firmly there,” he said. “We are on the side that calls for dialogue and diplomacy as the only way out.”

US officials have been heartened by what they see as China’s lack of concrete backing for the war and say Beijing has declined requests to send military equipment, forcing Russia to rely on North Korea and Iran as its own supplies dwindle.China’s reaction to Russia is being closely watched for clues on its approach to Taiwan, a self-governing democracy that Beijing claims as its territory.

Wang held firm that China would take “forceful steps” against any interference, insisting efforts to prevent “reunification” with Taiwan would be “crushed by the wheels of history”.

Lavrov at a news conference declined to answer whether there has been any pressure from China. In his speech, he sought to cast blame squarely on the West.

“The official Russophobia in the West is unprecedented. Now the scope is grotesque,” Lavrov told the UNGA. “They are not shying away from declaring the intent to inflict not only military defeat on our country but also to destroy and fracture Russia.”

The US, he said, since the end of the Cold War has acted as if it is “an envoy of God on Earth, with the sacred right to act with impunity wherever and whenever they want”.

He also blasted the European Union as an “authoritarian, harsh, dictatorial entity” and said the bloc’s leadership forced one member state’s leader – Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades – to cancel a planned meeting with him.

Lavrov criticised the West for not engaging with Russia saying, “We have never stepped away from maintaining contact.”

Western powers are looking at further sanctions after Putin called up reservists and made a veiled threat to use nuclear weapons, and have promised not to recognise the results of referendums on Russian annexation being held in occupied territories. They have welcomed Lavrov’s isolation, noting how he showed up at a Security Council session on Thursday only to deliver remarks and not to listen to others.

Russia enjoyed one rare voice of support on Saturday at the UNGA. Mali’s interim Prime Minister Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, appointed by coup leaders, hailed the “exemplary and fruitful cooperation” with Moscow. The military government has welcomed Russia’s Wagner Group security firm, despite Western allegations of rights abuses, as France pulled out troops who had been struggling to contain a religious armed uprising.



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JVP accuses EC of conspiring to delay LG polls

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By Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, MP, has told Parliament that the Election Commission and its Chairman are collaborating with the government to postpone the local government elections.

Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023, on Friday, MP Dissanayake said that as local government bodies should be reconstituted before March 20 2023, the Election Commission had to publish a gazette calling nominations by late December or early January.

“The EC has the authority to do so. It has sought the Attorney General’s opinion on some matters. There is no need at all for it to seek the AG’s advice,” he said.

“This is a conspiracy. The Elections Commission can publish the gazette even tomorrow. It is clear that the Elections Commission is collaborating with the government,” he said.

Dissnayake said that Election Commissioner Nimal Punchihewa’s impartiality was in question. “We know where Punchihewa worked before and at what party office. We know the governments and persons he has worked with closely. He is not an independent person.”

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Diana wants bars open 24/7

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By Saman Indrajith

State Tourism Minister Diana Gamage says liquor outlets should be kept open longer if the country wants to boost tourism.Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023 on Friday, State Minister Gamage said: “We have to keep these places open 24/7. I have spoken about it many times. Liquor is the highest tax earner in the country. In this paradise, we are closing bars after 11pm. Foreigners in hotels can’t get any alcohol if they need, because all the places are closed.

We need to keep this country open 24 hours. Like Singapore and other countries, people must have entertainment.”

“I talk about the night life, and when I talked about that earlier many criticized it and saw it as a big sin. That is ones who are incapable of understanding it,” she said.

“What we call night life is actually a night economy. All the countries in the world have developed because of night economy. These countries get 70 percent of their income from the nigh economy. They only get 30 percent during the day time. We have to develop a night economy in this country. That will earn 70 percent of the income. Only that can develop this country.

“We can do that. And also our museum, that closes at 5 pm. In other countries, museums earn most during night. It must be opened 24/7.  This night economy is essential for a country’s economy. People must have places to spend their money.”

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SJB asks govt. to introduce political reforms fast

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By Saman Indrajith

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has asked the government when it will introduce the political reforms demanded by the international community.

Speaking in Parliament on Saturday, Kiriella said that when the Opposition parties met the members of the Colombo-based diplomatic community during the Aragalaya protests, the latter had demanded that Sri Lanka implement political and economic reforms to receive foreign assistance to get out of the prevailing crisis. “That was six months ago. We have been asking the government repeatedly to inform this House whether it has implemented those reforms.

“The riginal plan was to establish an interim government for six months to restore the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. It was stated that an election would be held after six months. Now, what has happened? The politicians who are responsible for the crisis are still in power.

“Foreign Minister Al Sabry met USAID Administrator Samantha Power on Friday. Samantha Power called for the same political and economic reforms again. The international community is asking for the same.”

Leader of the House, Minister Susil Premjayantha said that political reforms were being implemented. “It is as part of the political reforms we are setting up a National Council, Sectoral Oversight Committees and three other committees. Counter terrorism act is in the pipeline. It will be taken up within couple of weeks. We passed several bills with your support. There were nine amendments to be introduced to the criminal law,” he said.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa: “The bills and amendments that have been passed are not enough as far as the international community and we are concerned. The biggest request is to allow the people of this country for a new mandate. Allow the people to express their will. Give them a chance to establish a new government or to maintain the same government now they have.”

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