20th May 2001
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Zhu goes after strengthening ties

Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji who completed a two day visit to Sri Lanka left the island last morning after a simple farewell ceremony at the Bandaranaike International Airport. 

The key event of the Premier's visit was the economic agreement between the two countries, where a grant of 450 million Sri Lankan rupees was given to be used for development projects in Sri Lanka.

Cordial talks between President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Zhu Rongji took place on Friday morning where it centred around the strengthening of bilateral relations, economic cooperation, trade, investment, civil aviation and tourism. 

Following the talks the agreement was signed. President Kumaratunga outlined the developments relating to SAARC and observed that the Organisation could help to develop relations between China and South Asia.

President Kumaratunga also proposed that hybrid rice and vegetables, hydro power development and rural areas, school development programme could be provided under the assistance already available. Prime Minister Rongjii agreed that both countries could cooperate in these fields. The President also pointed out that the Muthurajawela Oil Tank Farm, which received assistance from the Chinese government is being constructed smoothly. 

The President also stated that among the other new projects which could be considered are electrification of approximately 200 villages and expansion of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation refinery. 

The Chinese Premier also agreed to provide technical advice and a concessionary loan for an expansion project of a refinery project. 

Speaking on tourism, the Chinese premier agreed to send a delegation comprising of representatives of the civil aviation sector and the China National Tourism Administration to discuss cooperation in these sectors. 

The Premier's visit which was on a tight schedule also included a visit to the National Museum and to the BMICH for the unveiling of the plaque of the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial International Exhibition Centre. 

The Prime Minister and Madam Lao An who arrived in Sri Lanka on Thursday was hosted to a State Banquet by President Chandrika Kumaratunga at the Presidents House. 

On Friday the Speaker Anura Bandaranaike paid a courtesy call on the Premier at the Hilton Hotel, which was followed by a courtesy call made by the Opposition Leader Ranil Wickreme-singhe and a UNP delegation. 

Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake on Friday night hosted a banquet to the Premier at the Oberoi. The Prime Minister left Sri Lanka at 9.40 a.m. on the special aircraft.

UNICEF launches 'Say yes for children' campaign

In a move to improve the lives of children, UNICEF has launched an international campaign aimed at improving the welfare of children.

The campaign titled 'Say Yes for Children' speaks of ten imperative actions that concerns children.

The results of the campaign will be presented at the Special Session on Children of the UN General Assembly in New York, to be held in September.

UNICEF calls people of all ages from every section of society to join the campaign to demonstrate that 'the citizens of the world care about children and expect governments to keep the promises they make to them'.

The Special Session on Children to be held from September 19-21 will see world leaders, heads of state, NGOs, children's advocates and children themselves reviewing the progress that has been made for children in the last 10 years. 

Participants are expected to work towards an agreement during the three-day session on the critical actions that will be taken over in the next decade on behalf of children.

The 'Say Yes for Children' campaign which covers ten critical issues ranging from poverty and violence to education, health and the environment, allows people all over the world to pledge their support via internet, on paper or through acclamation and personal contact. 

"We have no numerical targets for 'Say Yes for Children' pledges for every country, but a groundswell of pledges coming from all parts of the world would be a powerful message to leaders attending the Special Session," a report on the Global Movement for Children stated.

It is also believed that the campaign will help build pressure at national and international level for action.

Those wanting to pledge via internet could log on to while others can contact the UNICEF office in Colombo. 

Hakeem may join attack on Herath

By Nilika de Silva
The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, an ally in the ruling PA, is considering possible support for a UNP motion calling for the sacking of Minister Maheepala Herath for alleged involvement in the Mawanella violence.

SLMC leader and Minister Rauf Hakeem told The Sunday Times the party high command would take a decision after studying the motion which is likely to be presented in parliament this week.

The JVP has already decided to support the motion and UNP lobbies are reported to be seeking support from Tamil parties.

If the SLMC supports the motion it will be the first time since the October 2000 elections that it would be voting against the government in parliament.

Mr. Hakeem also said the memorandum of understanding between the PA and the SLMC was expected to be signed soon though he would not set a timeframe.

He said that though seven months had passed since the elections where the SLMC helped the PA to form a government the party had received little besides the ministerial posts.

Explosive maths book

By R.S. Keeriyawatta
While some of the Year Three students are yet to receive mathematics text books, pages of the books have been used to produce fire cracker packets, residents said. 

A child who had purchased crackers from a shop in Augastawatta Peradeniya had found that a cracker manufacturing company in Katana had used the pages of the particular book to make wrappers for crackers.

Report on Mawanella ready

The report on the Mawanella incident, comprising evaluation of damages and proposed compensation has been handed over to the Cabinet Secretary.

Government Agents of Mawanella, Rambukkana and Aranayake, members of the Valuation Department and the Traders' Association and the Deputy Director of Education worked together to prepare this report following an investigation. 

Senior DIG T.E. Anandaraja who conducted investigations into the alleged role of the police with regard to the Mawanella incident said his report would take one or two weeks as at present statements were still being recorded. 

Boardroom change at national carrier

SriLankan Airlines saw a change in its directorate last week with top industrialist Sohli Captain being appointed to the board after Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundara stepped down, airline sources said.

CEO Peter Hill confirmed that Mr. Captain had joined the board but was unable to say whom he was replacing. "I was only informed by Dr. Jayasundara that Mr. Captain has been appointed to the board of the airline," he said.

Other sources said the Treasury Secretary was believed to have resigned from the board due to pressure of work. Reports that Presidential Secretary Kusumsiri Balapatabendi had also left the board were not correct.

"Mr Balapatabendi continues to be a director," said Mr. Hill.

The other directors are S.K. Wickremasinghe (chairman) and W.P.S. Jayawardene. The government has a 51 percent stake in SriLankan Airlines with the balance held by Emirates (40 percent) and the employees (nine percent).

Foreigners continue hunger strike

By Chandani Kirinde
Some 20 foreigners being held at the Negombo remand prison for immigration offences are continuing a fast demanding that steps be taken to expedite their cases. 

These foreigners from the United States, Britain, China and Taiwan along with about 200 Sri Lankans have been remanded for several months for alleged violation of immigration laws through forgery of visas or other travel documents.

Under amended immigration laws, bail is not given unless the police agree and several suspects have alleged that the nod would be given if a bribe is available. Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle visited the prison last month in an effort to provide some relief. The foreign suspects have also sent a petition to Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

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