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August 2, 2016    Reading Time: 2 minutes

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Mr. Esala Weerakoon appointed as the new Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Image credit - The Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Sri Lanka allocates land for Chinese economic zone

The government has agreed to grant 55 square km of land in Hambantota to China, for the development of a special economic zone, as part of its ‘One Belt One Road Initiative’.

The President of the International Strategy Institute at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Li Xiangyang, stated that ‘Sri Lanka is a crucial node to push forward the… Initiative, given its strategic position in the South Asian region, and given the lesser interest India has shown in the Belt and Road Initiative’.

New Foreign Ministry Secretary appointed

Mr. Esala Weerakoon has been appointed as the new Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by President Maithripala Sirisena. He began his duties on 1 August after receiving the appointment letter from the Secretary to the President, P. B. Abeykoon.

Mr Weerakoon has previously served as the High Commissioner to India and Charge d’Affaires of Sri Lankan missions in Washington DC and Tokyo.

Sri Lanka and Canada strengthen bilateral ties

The Canadian government has pledged CAD 11.2 million towards improving the delivery of government services in both Sinhala and Tamil, through the National Languages Equality Advancement Project. Canada will also fund the Entrepreneur Financial Centre Project, worth CAD 8.8 million.

The announcement of the two projects was made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Stéphane Dion, during his official visit to Sri Lanka.


US launches airstrikes in Libya

Following the request made by the UN-backed unity government, US fighter jets have launched airstrikes on the city of Sirte, Libya.

The fall of Sirte, which has been under ISIS control since June 2015, would significantly reduce the group’s strength in the country.

Venezuela passes first phase for referendum

The Venezuelan opposition has successfully obtained the number of signatures required to initiate a referendum that would end President Nicolás Maduro’s time in office.

Opposition leaders are eager for the second phase of the process to begin. If President Maduro loses the referendum this year, it would mark the end of 17 years of socialism in Venezuela.

Yemeni peace talks break down

The Yemeni government negotiators have decided to leave talks held in Kuwait, after the Houthi opposition rejected a draft UN peace plan aimed at ending the country’s war.

The UN proposal included plans for the Houthi movement to abandon three main cities, including the capital Sana’a, and plans to hold negotiations to form a new government that would include the Houthis.

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