Pope Francis heads for Egypt as 'pilgrim of peace'

WorldCairo (AFP) - Pope Francis flies to Egypt Friday for a visit aimed at fostering reconciliation with the Muslim world against the backdrop of recent jihadist attacks on the Middle East's biggest Christian community. On Friday the head of the world's 1.3 billion Catholics will walk together with Coptic Pope Tawadros II to the church where a suicide bomb attack killed 29 people in December. "Please pray for my journey tomorrow as a pilgrim of peace to Egypt," Francis said on his Twitter account on the eve of his departure. Before his visit, some roads had been festooned with posters showing Francis against the backdrop of the Pyramids, with a message that read: "Pope of peace in the Egypt of peace." The now-retired German pontiff's 2011 comments condemning an attack on a Coptic church prompted Al-Azhar to denounce Benedict for meddling in Egypt's affairs.

April 28, 2017 10:10 UTC

Afghan Taliban announce start of 'spring offensive'

WorldKabul (AFP) - The Afghan Taliban launched their "spring offensive" Friday, heralding fresh fighting in the drawn-out conflict as embattled security forces struggle to recover from a devastating attack on a military base one week ago. It is believed to be the deadliest by the Taliban on an Afghan military target since they were driven from power in 2001, and marked yet another psychological blow by the resurgent militants. Already beset by killings, desertions, and struggles over leadership and morale, Afghan forces have been straining to beat back insurgents since US-led NATO troops ended their combat mission in December 2014. They faced soaring casualties in 2016, up by 35 percent with 6,800 soldiers and police killed, according to a US watchdog. The Taliban statement claimed this year will be different, however, vowing a political approach in areas it controls that will focus on state-building and "establishing mechanisms for social justice and development".

April 28, 2017 07:30 UTC

U.S. says 'major conflict' with North Korea possible, China warns of danger of escalation

World(REUTERS) U.S. President Donald Trump said a "major, major conflict" with North Korea was possible over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, while China said the situation on the Korean peninsula could escalate or slip out of control. "There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea," Trump said in an interview at the Oval Office. "We'd love to solve things diplomatically but it's very difficult," he said, describing North Korea as his biggest global challenge. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday that China had asked North Korea not to conduct any more nuclear tests. Harris also said a U.S. missile defense system being deployed in South Korea to ward off any North Korean attack would be operational in coming days.

April 28, 2017 06:56 UTC

Suspect in Sub-Inspector's murder killed in shootout

NewsA suspect wanted in connection with 24 murders, including that of a police Sub-Inspector, was killed during a shootout with police officers at Bathalayagama in Katuwewa, Hambantota yesterday. Police said the suspect, identified as J.K. Chaminda, had previously served in the Army's Special Forces Regiment. The suspect was also wanted in connection with the shooting of several police officers on November 15, 2016 at a hotel in Kurunegala. Several police officers were injured and a Sub-Inspector killed in that incident. The suspect had escaped after shooting the officers and had been hiding out at various places in the island since then.

April 28, 2017 06:38 UTC

Thai police seek first arrest warrant for Red Bull heir

WorldBangkok (AFP) - Thai police on Friday asked a court to issue an arrest warrant for the heir to the Red Bull empire over a deadly 2012 hit-and-run, a belated move to end the impunity enjoyed by the super-rich scion. Thai police seek first arrest warrant for Red Bull heirThe scion -- nicknamed "Boss" -- was 27 at the time of the crash and has freely dipped in and out of Thailand over the past five years but never been arrested. "(The arrest warrant) is being deliberated on in the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court," Colonel Kachornpong Jiitparkpoom, the superintendent of Thonglor police station, told AFP Friday. Prosecutors called on police to request the warrant after Worayuth missed yet another deadline to appear on Thursday -- a move that critics say was long overdue. Worayuth's grandfather Chaleo Yoovidhya co-founded the Red Bull brand with Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz in the 1980s.

April 28, 2017 06:22 UTC

Parliamentary debate underway on making garbage disposal an essential service

NewsThe Parliamentary debate on the Meethotamulla landfill site disaster and waste management commenced today at 9.30am. A gazette issued under President Maithripala Sirisena’s directive under the Public Security Act Clause NO 16 declaring garbage disposal by any authority of the Public Administration as an essential service is set to be up for debate. In order for the directive to pass, it should receive the majority vote of the parliament.

April 28, 2017 06:11 UTC

No rain in North: Mannar farmers face ruin

NewsResettled farmers in the Mannar District are facing severe hardships as rains during the Maha cultivation season have not materialized as expected. The farmers, who were displaced for years due to the war, say they have engaged in 'chena' cultivation on lands with great difficulty after being resettled. Many say that they had even pawned their jewelry in a bid to finance their cultivations. While the Government has provided new houses for the farmers, they say they are struggling to maintain their livelihoods now as the rains have not been falling as they had hoped. Story and Pix by Romesh Madushanka

April 28, 2017 05:43 UTC

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe arrives in Udaipur

Sri Lanka and Iran called for expansion of all-out defence cooperation between the two nations during a bilateral meeting with Iran's Defence M... Features & AnalysisAsia Capital PLC and Japan’s Belluna Co. Ltd break ground for new hotelAsia Capital PLC and Japan’s Belluna Co. Ltd. this week broke ground for a US $ 51 million 4-star business hote...Graveyards with a twist: Tombstones with interactive screensTombstones have often been highly decorated or embellished to help people remember their loved ones, but now a compan... Awakening Lanka’s latest venture 'Music For Unity' on this weekend‘Music for Unity’, is part of Awakening Lanka’s latest venture and is aimed at raising funds ...Barista 'museum outlet' gears to welcome visitors and explorersWhile the Colombo National Museum celebrates 140 years this year, the Barista 'museum outlet' is gearing...

April 28, 2017 05:37 UTC

Southeast Asia's leaders steer away from democracy: Activists

opinionManila (AFP) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly drug war is part of a worrying assault on human rights and democracy across Southeast Asia, activists said as regional leaders gathered in Manila on Friday. This is partly because the leaders of most other countries in the region have few democratic credentials themselves, or have human rights clouds hanging over them, according to Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division. Amnesty International called on the ASEAN leaders to consider whether the drug war killings were a "serious breach" of the provision in the group's charter to protect human rights. - Myanmar -Aung San Suu Kyi's reputation as a democracy icon and human rights defender has been tarnished by her first year in office. Human rights groups warn he may be orchestrating a crime against humanity.

April 28, 2017 03:11 UTC

Trump vows to terminate NAFTA if no 'fair deal'

WorldUS President Donald Trump tempered hisagreement to renegotiate NAFTA Thursday with a warning that the trade agreement with Canada and Mexico would be terminated if there is no “fair deal.” Trump campaigned for president on promises to scrap NAFTA, calling it “the worst trade deal maybe ever signed” and a “disaster” that has resulted in millions of US industrial jobs lost mostly to Mexico. But on Wednesday, the White House said Trump “agreed not to terminate NAFTA at this time” during calls with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “I received calls from the President of Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada asking to renegotiate NAFTA rather than terminate,” the president tweeted. “I agreed, subject to the fact that if we do not reach a fair deal for all, we will then terminate NAFTA. Relationships are good - deal very possible!” NAFTA was established January 1, 1994 under then-president Bill Clinton.

April 27, 2017 12:56 UTC

Russian navy ship collided with another vessel off Turkish coast: Moscow

WorldA Russian navy ship collided with another vessel off the Turkish coast in the Black Sea Thursday, Russia's defence ministry said, adding that its crew was trying to keep it afloat. The statement said the crew was not harmed but is “fighting to keep the ship” afloat and that other Russian navy ships and a plane have been dispatched to the scene. The Russian military said it is trying to identify the owner of the Ashot-7 ship. The Liman is a former research vessel that the Russian navy has retro-fitted into a reconnaissance ship. In February, military sources told Russian media that it would be observing NATO's Sea Shield exercise in the Black Sea.

April 27, 2017 12:11 UTC

***Motion opposing GSP+ for Sri Lanka defeated in EU

(REUTERS) Sri Lanka has appointed seven lead managers including for the upcoming up to $1.5 billion sovereign bond with the country expected t... Features & AnalysisAwakening Lanka’s latest venture 'Music For Unity' on this weekend‘Music for Unity’, is part of Awakening Lanka’s latest venture and is aimed at raising funds ...Barista 'museum outlet' gears to welcome visitors and explorersWhile the Colombo National Museum celebrates 140 years this year, the Barista 'museum outlet' is gearing...Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky to take centre stage at the Lionel WendtRussian pianist Maxim Puryzhinskiy and Sri Lankan violinist Ananda Dabare and cellist Dushyanthi Perera will take on ...Man Booker International Prize shortlist announcedSix books were shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize on last week the New York Times reported....

April 27, 2017 11:37 UTC

'Islamist' attack on France's Reunion island, 2 police wounded

WorldA suspected Islamist radical shot and wounded two policemen on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion as they tried to arrest him on Thursday, authorities said. The attack comes a week after a French policeman was shot and killed and two others wounded on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, just days ahead of the first round of the presidential election. The lives of the two officers are not in danger and the anti-terrorist department of the Paris prosecutors' office is investigating the attack. A jihadist network, the first in a French overseas territory, was smashed in Reunion in June 2015. Authorities in Reunion estimate there are around 100 radicalised Islamists on the island.

April 27, 2017 11:37 UTC

Barista 'museum outlet' gears to welcome visitors and explorers

FeaturesWhile the Colombo National Museum celebrates 140 years this year, the Barista 'museum outlet' is gearing to welcome more travellers and explorers. Barista’s signature “museum outlet” is situated on the Green Path end of the expansive museum property and serves up coffee and edible accompaniments with a local flavour, a statement from the organisation said. Among the sandwiches on offer the popular favorites include spicy Polos and Cheese Sandwich, Pol Sambol with Fried Egg and Cheese Sandwich and the Jaffna Style Prawn Sandwich. For those who prefer the great outdoors, the outlet offers ample space outside under a garden umbrella. The outlet is open from 7am to 10pm daily, the outlet can be contacted on 011 2 680551 for further information.

April 27, 2017 11:03 UTC

Fonseka on proposed new role by President

While Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka has been offered the task of upholding discipline in the country by taking a key role in law and order, here he tells media he is still to make a decision and yet to meet with the President. This comes in the wake of Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne’s statement during a briefing claiming Fonseka expressed a willingness to take on the task.

April 27, 2017 10:41 UTC

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