Government defends stand it took on backing UK in EU

The British public today voted for the UK to leave the EU and as a result Sri Lanka will now need to look at having a separate trade deal with Britain. The Government today backed the decision it took to support the campaign to keep Britain in the European Union (EU).Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsh de Silva said that the decision was taken in the best interest of Sri Lanka’s economy. The opposition, in Parliament today, questioned the decision taken by the Government to send a team to UK to gather the support of Sri Lankans in the UK to vote for Britain remaining in the EU.Opposition Parliamentarian Dinesh Gunawardena said that the Sri Lankan delegation had attempted to support British Prime Minister David Cameron’s campaign but failed. He said that Sri Lanka’s future has a dependence on the world economy especially since Sri Lanka is looking to export apparel to the EU under the GSP trade concession scheme to which Britain is also a member. Dr. Harsh de Silva and Minister Harin Fernando as well as former Minister Rosy Senanayake met the Sri Lankan diaspora in London recently and urged them to vote in favour of keeping the UK in the EU.The Deputy Foreign Minister said that while Sri Lanka’s efforts had failed the country will now look to sign a free trade agreement with Britain.He said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will brief Parliament soon on the trade deal Sri Lanka will look to reach with Britain. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Lebanon UN envoy condemns cowardly attack in Beirut suburb

“Such cowardly acts of violence aim at destabilizing the country and spreading fear among the population and are completely unacceptable,” said a news release issued by the office of the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly.“Lebanon’s leaders and political parties should rally together against such threats to their country’s security and stability and work to reinforce the role of Lebanon’s State institutions.”The explosion occurred this morning in a parking lot of a densely populated area in the suburb of Bir El-Abed. Media reports say around 50 people were wounded in the attack, for which no group has so far claimed responsibility.Mr. Plumbly, who is scheduled to brief the Security Council later today in a closed-door meeting on Lebanon, conveyed his deep sympathies to those injured in the explosion and wished them a speedy recovery. “The Special Coordinator hopes today’s incident will be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice as soon as possible,” the news release added. Following closed-door talks on Lebanon this afternoon, Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo of the United States, which holds the Council’s presidency for the month, said the 15-member body had expressed its strong support for United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and all its troop-contributing countries. She said that while the Council members had noted the relative calm along the Blue Line, they had also expressed deep concern at the marked increase in cross-border fire from Syria into Lebanon, as well as ongoing incursions, abductions and arms trafficking along the Syrian-Lebanese border. She said that Council had also condemned today’s bombing in Beirut and expressed the need to “speak with one voice” on matters regarding Lebanon’s territorial integrity. The members had also expressed gratitude to the people and Government of Lebanon for accepting over 590,000 people who had fled the violence in Syria. They had also expressed need for international support to help Lebanon address humanitarian crisis sparked by the ongoing conflict in Syria. read more