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.


Pakistan reopens airspace to civil aviation after India standoff

Updated 16 July 2019
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Pakistan reopens airspace to civil aviation after India standoff

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan opened its airspace to civil aviation on Tuesday, following months of restrictions imposed in the wake of a standoff with neighboring India.
“With immediate effect Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published ATS (Air Traffic Service) routes,” according to a so-called Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) published on the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority’s website.
The move by Pakistan, which lies in the middle of a vital aviation corridor, offers a welcome break for international airlines after the airspace restrictions affected hundreds of commercial and cargo flights each day, adding to flight time for passengers and fuel costs for airlines.
India’s ministry of civil aviation said that after the lifting of the NOTAMS, there were no further restrictions on airspace in either country.
“Flights have started using the closed air routes, bringing a significant relief for airlines,” it said.
Pakistan closed its airspace in February after an attack by a Pakistan-based militant group in Indian-controlled Kashmir led to an armed standoff between the two nuclear-armed powers.
Both countries carried out aerial attacks over the other’s territory and warplanes fought a brief dogfight over the skies of the disputed Kashmir region during which an Indian fighter jet was shot down.
Partial operations at Pakistani airports resumed once the immediate crisis passed but restrictions continued to affect many international carriers using Pakistani airspace.
Pakistan’s announcement came hours after United Airlines Holdings Inc. said it was extending the suspension of its flights from the United States to Delhi and Mumbai in India until Oct. 26, citing continued restrictions of Pakistani airspace.