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Ukraine war: Biden prepared to meet Putin to end Russia’s war

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US President Joe Biden has said he would be ready to meet Russia’s Vladimir Putin “if in fact there is an interest in him deciding that he’s looking for a way to end the war”.

Addressing reporters alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, he stressed Mr Putin had not yet done that.The two men stressed they would continue to stand against Russia’s war.

In response, the Kremlin said President Putin remained open to talks aimed “to ensure our interests”.

However, spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Moscow was certainly not ready to accept US conditions: “What did President Biden say in fact? He said that negotiations are possible only after Putin leaves Ukraine.”

It complicated the search for a mutual basis for talks, he said, that the US did not recognise “new territories” in Ukraine, which Russia illegally claimed as its own at the end of September.President Macron made clear that he had agreed with Mr Biden that they would never urge the Ukrainians to make a compromise “that will not be acceptable for them”.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said on Friday that the time had come to work for a just peace for Ukraine, but it had to come through independence for Kyiv and not its surrender. “The Kremlin must now give concrete signals instead of bombing the population,” he told La Repubblica newspaper.Meanwhile, on a visit to Ukraine, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said there could be no peace until Russia stopped lying about what it was doing in Ukraine.

Speaking in Bucha, where Russian troops are accused of committing war crimes in the massacre of hundreds of civilians, he said: “There can be no way forward based on lies. There were atrocities committed here.”

A senior Ukrainian official said earlier that between 10,000 and 13,000 of its soldiers had been killed since the start of Russia’s invasion on 24 February.Neither Ukraine nor Russia tend to release figures for casualties, and the remarks by presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak have not been confirmed by the Ukrainian military.

Last month, the most senior US general, Mark Milley, said around 100,000 Russian and 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed or wounded since the start of the war.

Speaking to Ukrainian TV outlet Channel 24, Mr Podolyak said Kyiv was “openly talking about the number of the killed”. He added that the number of civilians killed could be “significant”. He also suggested that up to 100,000 Russian soldiers had been killed since the invasion.

In a video address on Wednesday, EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said that 100,000 Ukrainian troops had been killed. However a spokesperson for the EU Commission later clarified that this was a mistake, and the figure referred to those both killed and wounded. Ms von der Leyen had also spoken of 20,000 Ukrainian civilian deaths. – BBC



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Supreme Court Judge, President of the Appeal Court, Appeal Court Justice took oath before President

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(pic PMD)

Justice K. P. Fernando, President of the Court of Appeal took oath as a Supreme Court Judge before President Ranil Wickremesinghe this morning (06) at the President’s House in Fort.

Court of Appeal Justice Mr. Nissanka Bandula Karunaratne took oath as the President of the Court of Appeal while High Court Judge M.A.R. Marikkar was also sworn in as a Judge of the Court of Appeal before President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Minister of Justice Wijayadasa Rajapaksha, Secretary to the President Mr. Saman Ekanayake, Commanders of the Tri Forces and other officials attended this event.

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Strong earthquake hits south-eastern Turkey near Syria border

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BBC reported that a powerful earthquake has hit Gaziantep in south-eastern Turkey, near the border with Syria.

The US Geological Survey said the 7.8 magnitude tremor struck at 04:17 local time (01:17 GMT) at a depth of 17.9km (11 miles) near the city of Gaziantep.

The quake was felt in the capital Ankara and other Turkish cities, and also across the region.

Reports are coming in that several buildings have collapsed, and a number of people may be trapped.

A BBC Turkish correspondent in Diyarbakir reports that a shopping mall in the city collapsed.

Rushdi Abualouf, a BBC producer in the Gaza Strip, said there was about 45 seconds of shaking in the house he was staying in.

Turkish seismologists estimated the strength of the quake to be 7.4 magnitude.

They said that a second tremor hit the region just minutes later.

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13 A: Political parties miss Ranil’s Feb. 04 deadline for submitting their proposals

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Udaya compares constitutional threat with Indonesian crisis in late ’90s

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The government hasn’t received proposals from political parties regarding President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s decision to implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution fully.

President Wickremesinghe, on January 26, requested party leaders to furnish their suggestions, if any, by Feb. 04 as he intended to brief Parliament on Feb. 08 as regards the implementation of land and police powers.

Political parties, represented in Parliament, had not responded to President Wickremesinghe’s request so far, authoritative sources told The Island. Responding to another query, sources said that the President’s Office hadn’t received proposals in support of President Wickremesinghe’s declaration or against it.

Several political parties, including the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) spurned the President’s invitation.

Having declared his intention to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, enacted in Nov. 1987, during Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15th, 2023, President Wickremesinghe warned party leaders on January 26 he would go ahead with plans unless the parliament repealed it. Both declarations were made in the presence of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.

Sources noted that though several political parties declared opposition and some issued statements supportive of the President’s move, they haven’t submitted proposals in writing.

President Wickremesinghe prorogued Parliament, on January 27, the day after setting Feb. 04 as the deadline for political parties to submit proposals. The new session of Parliament begins on Feb. 08.Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) General Secretary, Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, told The Island that the decision to fully implement the controversial amendment shouldn’t be taken hastily.

“We are certainly not opposed to the devolution of power. However, we cannot under any circumstances support an agenda that may cause chaos,” National List MP said.

The Attorney-at-Law said so when The Island asked him whether the ruling party submitted its proposals to President Wickremesinghe.The lawmaker said that there was no requirement to do so as he on behalf of the SLPP explained to the January 26 meeting chaired by President Wickremesinghe why 13th Amendment shouldn’t be fully implemented without examining the ground situation.

“Seven past Presidents didn’t do that. Why didn’t they do so? We’ll have to study why they refrained from granting police and land powers in spite of them being part of that Amendment. If the reasons that compelled them not to do so no longer exist, we can consider the proposals,” lawmaker Kariyawasam said.

Declaring SLPP’s commitment to maximum possible devolution, MP Kariyawasam warned of dire consequences if decisions were made on the basis of language and religion.The SLPP that secured 145 seats at the last general election remains the largest party in parliament though over two dozen MPs quit the government group.

MP Kariyawasam emphasized that they couldn’t act recklessly on the issue at hand.Those who quit the SLPP parliamentary group, too, have strongly opposed the full implementation of the 13th Amendment. Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader Udaya Gammanpila, MP, compared the developing crisis here with Western project that divided Indonesia in the late 90s.Attorney-at-Law Gammanpila explained how Western countries exploited the economic crisis in Indonesia to compel Jakarta to grant independence to East Timor.

Addressing a public rally at Dehiwela on Feb. 02  in support of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya contesting March 09 Local Government polls, former Power and Energy Minister said that the challenge faced by Sri Lanka owing to the continuing balance of payments and debt crises was very much similar to the circumstances leading to East Timor independence.

The 13th Amendment would split Sri Lanka on ethnic lines, the Colombo District MP warned.The MP recalled how external powers created an environment that compelled Indonesian President Suharto to resign in May 1998 to pave the way for Megawati Setiawati Sukarnoputri to win the next presidential election. The MP said that Sukarnoputri granted independence to East Timor.

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