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December 7, 2016    Reading Time: 2 minutes

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Ministry of Plantation Industries receives World Bank funds to modernise plantation sector. Image Credit - melis82 / depositphotos

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Deputy Foreign Minister issues clarification on sailors in Yemen

The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Harsha de Silva, has stated that the Sri Lankan sailors held near the border of Yemen and Saudi Arabia have been detained over a commercial dispute between the cargo receiver at the Port of Hodeidah and the cargo supplier. Yemeni pirates operating in the area have disrupted communication, and delayed rescue efforts.

The Deputy Minister clarified that no ransom was demanded for the sailors’ release, and that the government has sought India’s assistance to rescue them.

Joint venture to re-establish India-Sri Lanka ferry service

MMBL-Pathfinder Group, Aitken Spence, and Norled AS are expected to launch a joint venture to re-establish the ferry service connecting South India and Sri Lanka. The passenger and cargo ferry service will be completed in three stages.

The joint venture aims to provide ferry services at regular intervals, with low cost tickets and free baggage allowances, and provide travellers an alternative to air travel.

World Bank to fund modernisation of plantation sector

The Ministry of Plantation Industries has stated that it will receive USD 70 million from the World Bank to modernise the estates and factories of the plantation sector. The decision follows discussions held between the Minister of Plantation Industries, Navin Dissanayake, and the World Bank.

The World Bank is expected to provide 50% of the funds as a concessionary loan, and the balance as a grant. The Ministry will allocate a majority of the funds for replanting, water management, and improving roads and factories.


US military to return land to Japan

The US Secretary of Defence, Ashton Carter, has stated that the US military will return over 9,800 acres of land in Okinawa to the Japanese government.

The US military has occupied this land since World War II, and both countries have been negotiating its return since the 1990s. A formal ceremony to transfer the land is expected to take place on 21 and 22 December.

Time limit for Brexit deal

The EU’s chief negotiator in regard to Brexit, Michel Barnier, has stated that the UK has until October 2018 to reach an exit agreement with the EU. The statement was made with the expectation that the UK would trigger Article 50 in March 2017.

Mr. Barnier re-iterated that the UK would not be able to ‘cherry-pick’ issues that it deemed important, and that non-member countries could ‘never have the same rights and benefits since they are not subject to the same obligations.’

UN Internet Governance Forum commences in Mexico

The 11th annual UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) has commenced in Jalisco, Mexico. Delegates are expected to deliberate on the challenges of the digital age, and opportunities for equal access. Topics to be discussed include ‘Internet and Sustainable Development’, ‘Access and Diversity’, and ‘Youth and Gender Issues’.

An estimated four billion people are still unable to access the internet, and the IGF aims to bridge the digital divide.

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