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MS reveals how Mahinda thwarted powerful nation’s bid to save Prabhakaran

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By Saman Indrajith

A powerful Western country had been bent on saving Velupillai Prabhakaran during the last stage of the war in the guise of sending a ship to evacuate civilians used by the LTTE as human shield, but the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa had prevented it, former Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe revealed in Parliament yesterday.

 Opening the third reading stage debate on budget 2021 from government ranks, parliamentarian Samarasinghe said that the former President had not been swayed by international presure and safeguarded the national interest. “When I was the Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights I was summoned to Temple Trees for an urgent meeting as there would be a foreign delegation led by an Ambassador of the most powerful country then. I would not reveal the country’s name. The conclusion of the war was only days away. The then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Minister Basil Rajapaksa too were there. The meeting had been sought by the Ambassador’s country so the President asked what they needed. The Ambassador said many civilians were trapped in a small strip of land and the LTTE was using them as shields and if they could evacuate those civilians by ship if the President granted permission. The ambassador said that one of the ships belonging to their country was nearby and sought only the permission of the President to enter Sri Lankan waters. President Rajapaksa told the Ambassador that another powerful country in the region had also made the same request. Since the first country had not been given permission, he needed to discuss the matter with them first. When I asked him about the issue, the President put his hand on my shoulder and told me that if he allowed the evacuation, the LTTE leader Prabhakaran too would get into that ship and nobody would know what would happen in the middle of the sea. If Mahinda Rajapaksa had not stood up to that country, LTTE terrorism would have continued to plague the country.

MP Samarasinghe added that former President Rajapaksa had never hesitated to make the right decision for the sake of the country and never compromised the national interest.

 

 



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President orders probe into notification issued by Department of Immigration and Emigration

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It has been reported that President Wickremesinghe ordered an investigation into the notification issued by the Department of Immigration and Emigration requesting all  Russian and Ukrainian tourists to leave the country within 14 days.

According to the President’s Media Division (PMD), the relevant notification was issued without prior approval from the Cabinet of Ministers.

The decision had reportedly been taken as certain foreign tourists are running illegal businesses in the country.

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Contentious Chinese research vessel docks in Maldives

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Xiang Yang Hong 03 has previously visited Indian Ocean on several other occasions

A contentious Chinese research ship reached the Maldives on Thursday in the latest sign of the archipelago’s diplomatic reorientation towards Beijing and away from its traditional benefactor India.

Local residents said they had spotted China’s Xiang Yang Hong 3 at the Thilafushi industrial port near the capital Male.The 100-metre-long (328-foot) vessel was at an anchorage near Male on Thursday evening, according to the website Marinetraffic.

The Maldives’ pro-Beijing government said earlier the vessel was docking for a port call to rotate crew and take on supplies, on the condition that it would not conduct “research” while in its territorial waters.

Media reports in India had suggested that the vessel was conducting surveillance for Beijing.

India is suspicious of China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean and its influence in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which are strategically placed halfway along key east-west international shipping routes.Relations between Male and New Delhi have chilled since pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu won elections last year.

Muizzu has asked India to withdraw 89 security personnel based in the Maldives to operate reconnaissance aircraft by March 15.But the president has also insisted he does not want to upend ties with New Delhi by replacing Indian troops with Chinese forces.

Sri Lanka refused entry to Xiang Yang Hong 3 after two other port calls from Chinese vessels since 2022 raised objections from India.That included the ship Yuan Wang 5, which specializes in spacecraft tracking and which New Delhi described as a spy ship. (AFP)

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MP Harsha in Australia as “Special visitor”

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Harsha de Silva

Opposition MP and Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance (COPF) Harsha de Silva is currently in Australia as a special visitor.

Taking to ‘X’, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP said he had embarked on a nine-day visit on an invitation extended by the Government of Australia.

“My engagements with policymakers, academics, scientists and investment managers began in Melbourne and will continue in Adelaide and then public officials and politicians in Canberra,” he added.

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