Sri Lanka and Pakistan have agreed to deepen bilateral ties and cooperation in several sectors, following discussions between a visiting Pakistani minister and the new Sri Lankan leaders, local media reported here Tuesday.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi arrived in Sri Lanka on Sunday for an official visit. On Monday he met with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and discussed deepening bilateral ties between the two countries, a statement released by the Foreign Ministry said.
During discussions with President Rajapaksa, Qureshi said that Pakistan has close relations with Sri Lanka and it hopes to widen the scope of cooperation between the two countries to include trade, investment, defense, tourism, and multi-industry capacity building.
They also discussed preserving Buddhist heritage sites in Pakistan, fighting terrorism, and combating drug trafficking in the region.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has instructed a committee investigating the Easter Sunday terror attacks to expedite their probe to identify all those who were responsible for the attacks and produce them before the law, a statement released by the president's office said here Tuesday.
President Rajapaksa in discussions with members of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) to investigate and inquire into the Easter Sunday terror attacks, said there was an urgent need to identify roots and modalities of the April 21 suicide attacks and uncover all information related to the attacks.
The president said the security situation was continuously reviewed with intelligence officers.
"If there was any information that threatened national security, necessary action was taken in no time. That was how we were able to deport 160 preachers who were propagating extremist ideas," the president informed the PCoI.
The president further requested the PCoI to make recommendations to prevent recurrence of such tragedies, adding that maintaining national security was of utmost importance.
President Rajapaksa also offered to provide all necessary facilities required by the special commission.
Over 250 people were killed in the April 21 suicide attacks which targeted three churches and three luxury hotels across the Island country.
A local extremist group named the National Tawheed Jammaat were identified to be responsible for the attacks, the police said.
The Indian government has decided to undertake a massive outreach plan to reach out to the people to educate them about their fundamental duties, confirmed official sources in the Ministry of Law on Tuesday.
The drive is a part of the year-long celebrations to mark the 70th year of the Indian Constitution.
According to the official sources, the center government has contacted the ace law body, the Bar Council of India (BCI), to engage law students for making power-point presentations to schools in their areas educating the young students about their fundamental duties as enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
In a bid to reach out to the masses, there is also a plan to identify as many as 70 eminent personalities in every state and their comments regarding citizens' fundamental duties would be recorded and promoted through various social media platforms.
A similar exercise would be undertaken by the Ministry of External Affairs which would record statements of various personalities of international fame about the citizens' fundamental duties and promoted on social media.
The focus of the year-long campaign would be on duties of citizens and motivating them towards duties to the nation, said the official sources.
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak entered his defense on Tuesday for the corruption charges related to the state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali on Nov. 11 ordered Najib to present his case as prosecution has established cases on the seven charges against him -- three charges of criminal breach of trust, one count of abusing his position and three counts of money laundering related to SRC International funds, a former subsidiary of 1MDB.
Najib had chosen to give sworn evidence from the witness stand, where he will be cross examined by the prosecution after reading his 243-page statement to the court.
In reading out his prepared statement, Najib denied being the architect of 1MDB, which was formed in 2009 after the federal government took over the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) established by the Terengganu state government to solve its financial problem.
Najib also said he had been introduced to Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, as an individual who was well-connected to the Middle East. Low himself is wanted by the Malaysian government for his role in 1MDB case.
The defense team will prove that Najib did not misappropriate funds and did not act dishonestly, and that Low had masterminded the operation, Najib's lead counsel Shafee Abdullah said.
"The amount transferred to his account was done without his knowledge or involvement as the transactions were being manipulated by third parties without his knowledge and approval," Shafee said.
Prosecutors have argued that Najib wielded huge influence over the 1MDB's operation and knew that stolen money was being funneled from it into his accounts, with Judge Mohd Nazlan ruling the elements of misusing position, dishonesty and money laundering by the accused had been proven by the prosecution.
Some 42 million ringgit (10.5 million U.S. dollars) from SRC International was allegedly transferred to Najib's personal accounts while he was then prime minister, finance minister and advisor of 1MDB.
The trial began early April this year with the prosecution calling 57 witnesses to the stand over 58 days of hearings. Among those called included former bankers, officials with the country's retirement fund as well as members of the country's anti-corruption body.
The 66-year-old has been slapped with dozens of other charges for corruption, money laundering, power abuse and criminal breach of trust involving millions of ringgit since his ruling coalition lost power in the national elections last May.
He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor and step-son Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz are also facing corruption and money laundering charges, with all of them pleading not guilty.
The Philippines' main island, including the national capital, Manila, is under a tropical cyclone warning for a typhoon forecast to hit Monday night into Tuesday.
Local governments have told thousands of people to evacuate vulnerable areas such as coastal communities. The worst conditions are forecast for southeastern provinces on Luzon, the most populous island in the archipelago.
Philippine forecasters say Typhoon Kammuri (also called Tisoy) has maximum sustained winds of 150 kph (93 mph) near the center and gusts up to 185 kph (115 mph) at midafternoon Monday.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration warned of potentially severe flooding for Albay province, Samar and Leyte islands. For the metropolitan Manila region in western Luzon, intense rainfall was possible into Wednesday.
Some events during the Southeast Asian Games being hosted in the Philippines have been rescheduled and postponed for safety reasons.