India, Sri Lanka back Jaffna Cultural Center project

Updated 24 June 2014
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India, Sri Lanka back Jaffna Cultural Center project

The agreement to appoint Madhura Premathilake as the consultant architect for construction of the Jaffna Cultural Center was signed recently in the presence of Y. K. Sinha, High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka.
The government of India will build the Cultural Center at Jaffna at an estimated cost of Rs. 1.2 billion in the next 36 months on a plot of land adjacent to the Jaffna Public Library, made available by the Jaffna Municipal Council, according to the Indian High Commission in Colombo.
The center and the adjoining water body — the Pullukulam will be transformed into an integrated cultural space that can also accommodate open-air performances with the help of a floating stage.  
A memorandum of understanding for this purpose was signed on June 9 between the governments of India and Sri Lanka to implement the project.
The Cultural Center will provide suitable social infrastructure for the people of the Northern Province, especially for the people of Jaffna, to help them to reconnect with their cultural roots as well as to the rest of the country and to rejuvenate and nurture the ancient cultural heritage of Jaffna.  
The center, while enabling the people of Jaffna to enjoy various local and international cultural products, would also serve as a delivery center for training, instruction and education in a variety of cultural disciplines.  
The center is being developed as an iconic building that will emerge as a cultural forum that embodies coexistence and cooperation amongst the various communities on the island.
The facilities at the center include a theater-style auditorium (with projection facilities) with a capacity of up to 600 people, a multimedia library with on-line research facilities, exhibition and gallery space and a museum.  
It would also have an instructional wing, which would have facilities to conduct classes in vocal and instrumental music, dance and languages, including a language lab.  
It would also be able to serve as a hub of socio-cultural activities, for which a conference hall-cum-seminar room is included. 


UK warns dual nationals over travel to Iran, as France holds on envoy nomination

Updated 19 September 2018
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UK warns dual nationals over travel to Iran, as France holds on envoy nomination

  • Britain is seeking the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation who was arrested in April 2016
  • France will not name a new ambassador to Tehran before getting information from Iran following a foiled plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris in June

LONDON: Britain on Wednesday advised British-Iranian dual nationals against all but essential travel to Iran, tightening up its existing travel advice and warning it has only limited powers to support them if detained.

The advisory came in tandem with France’s decision to hold off on appointing a new ambassador to Iran, as it seeks clarification over an attempt to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris in June

“The Foreign Secretary (Jeremy Hunt) has taken the decision to advise against all but essential travel by UK-Iranian dual nationals to Iran,” a foreign office spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.
“British citizens who also hold Iranian nationality face risks if they travel to Iran, as we have seen all too sadly in a number of cases. The Iranian government does not recognize dual nationality, so if a dual national is detained our ability to provide support is extremely limited.”
Earlier this month Britain’s Middle East minister Alistair Burt used a visit to Iran to discuss cases of detained dual nationals, alongside other diplomatic issues.
Britain is seeking the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation who was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter, now aged four, after a family visit.
She was convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment, a charge denied by her family and the Foundation, a charity organization that is independent of Thomson Reuters and operates independently of Reuters News.
Meanwhile, France will not name a new ambassador to Tehran before getting information from Iran following a foiled plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris last June, French officials said on Wednesday.
An Iranian diplomat based in Austria and three other people were arrested on suspicion of plotting the attack on a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Iran has said it had nothing to do with the plot, which it called a “false flag” operation staged by figures within the opposition group itself.
The incident has hit relations just as France and its European partners are seeking to salvage a 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.
France’s ambassador to Iran departed in the summer. Iran has also yet to replace its departed ambassador to Paris.
“We have a charge d’affaires today in Tehran and there is a high-level dialogue between French and Iranian authorities,” said a French presidential source.
“We are working together to bring to light what happened around this event ... I wouldn’t say there is a direct link (in not appointing an ambassador), but Iran has promised to give us objective facts in the coming weeks that would allow us to pursue our diplomatic relationship as it is today.”
A French diplomatic source said the nomination had indeed been suspended as a result of the alleged plot.
France’s Foreign Ministry in August told its diplomats and officials to postpone non-essential travel to Iran indefinitely, citing the plot and a hardening of Tehran’s attitude toward France, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.
President Emmanuel Macron is likely to discuss the issue with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani when they meet on Sept. 25 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the source said.
Along with Britain and Germany, France is trying save a 2015 agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, which was thrown into disarray when US President Donald Trump pulled out of the accord in May and re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran.
Even so, tensions between Paris and Tehran have grown in recent months as Macron and his government have become increasingly frustrated with Iran’s activities in the Middle East region, in particular its ballistic missile program.