Japan calls for Sri Lanka to build ethnic reconciliation

Updated 07 September 2014
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Japan calls for Sri Lanka to build ethnic reconciliation

COLOMBO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday called for Sri Lanka to build ethnic reconciliation, more than five years after the end of the island nation’s bloody civil war.
He also asked the South Asian country to do more to implement the recommendations of its own war commission, which conducted a limited probe into allegations of human rights violations.
Abe began a two-day visit to Sri Lanka on Sunday. It’s the first visit by a Japanese prime minister to the country in 24 years.
Sri Lanka’s civil war ended in 2009 when government troops defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels, who were fighting for a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils.
But the government has faced international criticism that it has not done enough to reconcile with Tamils.
Abe told the local Sunday Times newspaper he also hoped Sri Lanka could achieve “true national reconciliation” five years after the military crushed ethnic Tamil rebels to end the island’s separatist war.
Sri Lanka has been under intense international pressure over war crimes allegedly committed by the military in the final months of the war. The UN rights body in March ordered an international panel to investigate charges that Sri Lanka’s security forces killed at least 40,000 Tamil civilians.
Abe noted that Colombo, which has refused to cooperate with the UN-mandated probe, had expanded the mandate of its own inquiry into those disappearances during the war to include investigating war crimes claims.
“Japan hopes such efforts made by Sri Lanka will lead to dispel concerns indicated in the resolution by the UN Human Rights Council,” Abe said in an interview with the newspaper published Sunday.
Japan, the largest single foreign aid donor to Sri Lanka, remained neutral at the UN Human Rights Council vote in March that voted to set up the war crimes probe.
Abe arrives from Bangladesh later Sunday as part of a regional tour aimed at boosting trade and offsetting China’s mounting influence in South Asia.
Abe, who is travelling to Colombo with a business delegation, will be the first Japanese premier in 24 years to visit the Indian Ocean island.
He is due to hold talks with President Mahinda Rajapakse on expanding their economic and political ties, Sri Lanka’s information minister said. Officials said Japan was helping Sri Lanka set up a new digital television broadcast system and was also assisting with upgrading the transport sector.


US targets Iranian-Russian network over Syrian oil shipments

Updated 16 min 37 sec ago
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US targets Iranian-Russian network over Syrian oil shipments

  • US officials said Russia facilitated the delivery of oil from Iran to Syria
  • Among those targeted are Syrian national Mohammad Amer Alchwiki and his Russia-based company, Global Vision Group

WASHINGTON: The US on Tuesday said it sanctioned six individuals and three entities to disrupt an Iranian-Russian network that it said was providing millions of barrels of oil to the Syrian government and funding militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah.
US officials said Russia facilitated the delivery of oil from Iran to Syria, and that a variety of mechanisms were used in an attempt to conceal the shipments and oil-related payments.
“Today we are acting against a complex scheme Iran and Russia have used to bolster the (Syrian President Bashar) Assad regime and generate funds for Iranian malign activity,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
“Central Bank of Iran officials continue to exploit the international financial system,” he added.
Among those targeted are Syrian national Mohammad Amer Alchwiki and his Russia-based company, Global Vision Group, the Treasury Department said in a statement.
Other targets include: Syrian national Hajji Abd Al-Nasir, Lebanon national Muhammad Qasim Al-Bazzal and Russian national Andrey Dogaev as well as Iranian nationals Rasoul Sajjad and Hossein Yaghoubi Miab, the statement said.
The US Treasury’s ‘designation’ of the individuals and entities effectively cuts them off from the global financial system by blocking any of their assets under US jurisdiction and warning non-US institutions against dealing with them.