Iran wants to further boost ties with Sri Lanka

He thanked Iraq for the warm welcome given to Iranian pilgrims and asked for facilitated trade for Iranian businessmen.The two neighboring countries have enjoyed growing ties ever since the overthrow of the former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, during the 2003 US invasion of the Muslim country. “In our eyes Iraqi government and nation enjoy specific position,” Zarif noted. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at a meeting with Sri Lanka’s new envoy to Iran, has voiced Tehran’s willingness to further boost ties with Sri Lanka, Iranian media reported.During seperate meetings held in Tehran with the envoys of Iraq, Benin and Sri Lanka, Zarif said Iran has resolved to further boost mutual interactions with the three countries. At the meeting with Iraq’s new ambassador, the Iranian minister described the relations between Baghdad and Tehran as “special”, and hoped for stronger ties in all aspects. read more

Canal network to be used for passenger transport

The canal network in Colombo is to be used for passenger transport, the Government announced today.The 43km long Colombo canal network is maintained by the Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation. The Government said that cabinet also approved the introduction of commercial activities such as floating markets along the canals. (Colombo Gazette) Accordingly, a proposal made by the Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka to implement a project for the introduction of a transportation scheme using canals, and water based recreational activities using boats was approved by the cabinet. Cabinet has been told that utilising the canal network for transportation of passengers and goods after several years would result in minimising traffic congestion in the city and promoting the tourism industry. read more

Back from G20 Ban considering proposals to prompt political solution to Syria

In his first press conference since returning to New York from the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Mr. Ban said that should a UN weapons team confirm use of chemical agents in the 21 August incident in Syria, it would be an “abominable crime” and the international community “would certainly have to do something about it.”“The Syrian people need peace,” he declared. “Should Dr. Sellström’s report confirm the use of chemical weapons, then this would surely be something around which the Security Council could unite in response – and indeed something that should merit universal condemnation,” Mr. Ban told reporters.The UN chief added that he is already considering “certain proposals that I could make to the Security Council” when presenting the investigation team’s report.Those include urging the Council to demand the immediate transfer of Syria’s chemical weapons and chemical precursor stocks to places inside Syria where they can be safely stored and destroyed, Mr. Ban said.He also urged Damascus to become a party to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Syria is not a party CWC, but it is a party to the Geneva (Protocol) of 1925 which prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons, according to the OPCW. In response to a question about how quickly the UN can act, if Syria agrees to a transfer of its alleged chemical weapons stock under international control, Mr. Ban said he is sure that the international community will take “very swift action” to make safely store and destroy the chemical weapons stocks. Meanwhile, the biomedical and environmental samples taken by the UN chemical weapons inspection team have been undergoing analysis in Europe since last week.Mr. Ban has said he would promptly share the results of the analyses with the 15-member Security Council and all 193 Member States.Addressing journalists, the UN chief again reiterated the need to come together for a so-called Geneva II conference, which would include representatives of Syrian parties as well as senior United States, Russian and UN officials, to find a political path out of the crisis in the country.A political solution “is the only viable option at this time”, Mr. Ban said, adding that he and Joint UN-Arab League Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, who was also in St. Petersburg, have been working very closely with Moscow and Washington to get all parties to the table.The UN chief noted that Syria dominated the G20 talks “in a way no other political development has ever done.” In addition to those discussions at the summit and on the sidelines, Mr. Ban said there was progress on growth, jobs, trade and investment. Mr. Ban said he was “encouraged” by the response to this call for concentrated actions to achieve the eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), define a global development agenda beyond 2015, and addressing climate change. He looks forward to building on the G20 discussions at the high-level General Assembly debate later this month at the UN Headquarters in New York. read more