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  Modi's Lanka visit was a grand success: Lanka minister

 

Beijing, May 17: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to Sri Lanka was a "grand success" and enabled both countries to finalise a number of projects, including the Trincomalee port project, a minister here said.
Sri Lanka's Minister on Special Assignment Sarath Amanugama, who was part of the official delegation headed by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremeshinghe that took part in the 'One Belt One Road' initiative here, said talks were underway with India for its participation in free trade zones in Trincomalee, Hambantota free trade as well as the Colombo port.
"Modi's visit was a grand success. The chemistry between our President, Prime Minister and Modi was excellent... The interesting thing is that Modi made a clear statement that projects should be fast tracked," the minister told PTI. India and Sri Lanka are in talks to jointly operate oil tanks at the strategic Trincomalee port. At least 73 of the 99 storage tanks in Trincomalee are to be managed under a new equity arrangement between India and Sri Lanka.
Calling both India and China "friends", Amanugama said Sri Lanka doesn't see the world divided between the two countries. "Taking sides is not rational in Sri Lanka's interest. No way we subscribe to the view that India and China have different interests," he said.
"India is our brother,China is our friend. Our link with India is historical and geographical. Both are our friends. We don't see the world divided between India and China," he said.
Modi wrapped up his Sri Lanka visit last week during which he took part in the the International Vesak Day celebrations and addressed Indian-origin Tamils. (Agencies)

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   Putin 'ready to provide recording' of Lavrov-Trump exchange

 

Sochi, May 17: Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that Moscow could provide a recording of the exchange between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US President Donald Trump, who is accused of sharing classified intelligence. "If the US administration finds it possible, we are ready to provide a recording of the conversation between Lavrov and Trump to the US Congress and Senate," Putin said during a press conference. He mocked the idea that Trump went off-script to share secrets with the Russians, saying he could issue a "reprimand" to Lavrov since he hasn't passed on the information.
"(Lavrov) didn't share these secrets with us -- neither with me nor with the representatives of the Russian security services. That is very bad of him," Putin said to sniggers from the audience as he answered questions after talks with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in the southern Russian city of Sochi. Citing unnamed sources, The Washington Post reported that Trump had shared intelligence with Lavrov regarding an Islamic State group terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on airplanes. According to sources cited in the report, that intelligence came from a US ally who had not authorised Washington to pass it on to Moscow.
Putin slammed critics who spread allegations about Trump's ties with Russia. "What else will the people generating such drivel and nonsense think of next?" he said. "They are shaking up their internal politics while using anti-Russian slogans."
"They either don't understand that they are hurting their own country, and then they are simply dumb, or they understand everything and then they are dangerous and corrupt," Putin added. (Agencies)

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    Japan restarts another reactor
 

Tokyo, May 17: A Japanese utility today switched on a nuclear reactor, the latest to come back in service despite deep public opposition in the aftermath of the Fukushima crisis. Japan shut down all of its dozens of reactors after a powerful earthquake in March 2011 spawned a huge tsunami that led to meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing the world's worst such accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
But only a handful of reactors have come back online due to public opposition and as legal cases work their way through the courts.
Today, Kansai Electric Power (KEPCO) restarted the No 4 reactor at the Takahama nuclear plant after a court in March cleared the move.
The latest restart at the plant in Fukui prefecture, some 350 kilometres west of Tokyo, came after court battles that lasted more than a year during which a district court near Fukui ordered KEPCO to suspend operations. The Fukui government, where the nuclear industry is a major employer, approved the reactor's restart but concerned residents in neighbouring Shiga prefecture asked their local court to stop the move.
The region's appeals court in Osaka finally ruled in March that KEPCO could restart two of the four reactors at Takahama. Shigeki Iwane, KEPCO president, announced the restart in a statement. "We will... carefully continue our work with discipline and regard safety as the priority," he said. Shiga governor Taizo Mikazuki voiced frustration and urged the national government to reduce its reliance on nuclear power, saying his prefecture would be greatly impacted in the event of an accident. (Agencies)

Trump's disclosure endangered spy's life


Washington, May 17: President Donald Trump risked the life of an Israeli spy embedded in the ISIS by sharing classified information with Russia, former US and Israeli officials believe.
"The spy provided intelligence involving an active ISIS plot to bring down a passenger jet en route to the United States, with a bomb hidden in a laptop that US officials believe can get through airport screening machines undetected," ABC News reported.
"The information was reliable enough that the US is considering a ban on laptops on all flights from Europe to the United States," it said.
The president's disclosure put the operative for one of the US' closest allies at risk and jeopardised future operations by sharing the information with Russia.
"The real risk is not just this source, but future sources of information about plots against us," Matt Olsen, former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told ABC.
Many in the counter-terrorism community also feel that what the president did was a mistake as Russia is not the part of a coalition fighting against the Islamic State (ISIS).
"They are not our partner".
Dan Shapiro, the former US ambassador to Israel, now a senior visiting fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, called the president and his team "careless".
He said that the reported disclosures demonstrate a "poor understanding of how to guard sensitive information". (Agencies)

 

Islamic State attacks Afghanistan TV station, multiple casualties


Jalalabad, May 17: The Islamic State on Wednesday claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a television station in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar that killed a security guard as well as all three attackers and wounded at least 17 people.
As the attack unfolded, heavy gunfire could be heard from around the building of RTA, Afghanistan’s national broadcaster, located close to the governor’s compound in the provincial capital, Jalalabad.
“Islamic State fighters are currently carrying out an attack inside the state broadcasting building in the city of Jalalabad,” the movement’s AMAQ newsagency said in a statement on instant messaging service Telegram.
The terror group has established a stronghold in the province bordering Pakistan, where it fights both the Taliban and Afghan government forces.
Map of Afghanistan locating Jalalabad where gunmen have attacked a TV and radio station Wednesday. (AFP)
Islamic State insurgents are active in Nangarhar province, of which Jalalabad is the capital.
The US military last month dropped the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb -- dubbed the “Mother Of All Bombs” -- on IS positions in Nangarhar, killing dozens of jihadists. (Agencies)

 

Turkish MPs elect judicial board under new Erdogan constitution

 

istanbul, May 17: Turkish lawmakers elected seven members to a reshaped judicial authority on Wednesday, part of a constitutional overhaul backed by a referendum last month that considerably expands the powers of President Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan says the changes are vital to ensure stability in Turkey, which is battling Kurdish and Islamist militants and experienced an abortive coup last year blamed by Ankara on a U.S.-based cleric who had many supporters in the judiciary.
But opposition parties and human rights groups say the reforms threaten judicial independence and push Turkey towards one-man rule. Some of Turkey’s NATO allies and the European Union, which it aspires to join, have also expressed concern. The two largest opposition parties, who say the April 16 referendum was marred by possible fraud, boycotted the overnight vote in parliament appointing seven members to a redesigned, 13-strong Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) – all candidates of the ruling AK Party and its nationalist MHP ally. The council oversees the appointment, promotion, transfer, disciplining and dismissal of judges and prosecutors. The judiciary had previously appointed most of the HSK members but following the referendum parliament now picks seven and Erdogan a further four. The other two members of the board are the justice minister and ministry undersecretary. “The vote has further politicised the judiciary, turning it into a totally AKP and MHP judiciary,” Filiz Kerestecioglu, a deputy from the pro-Kurdish HDP, told Reuters, saying it had decided not to participate because the process was illegitimate. (Agencies)

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