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UN chief condoles death of Malawi's Vice President in plane crash

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United Nations, June 12 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condoled the plane crash that killed Malawi’s Vice President and nine other people, said his Deputy Spokesman.

“The Secretary-General was very saddened to hear of this plane crash which claimed the life of the Vice President of Malawi and many other senior Malawian officials,” said Farhan Haq, the Deputy Spokesman.

“We offer condolences to their families and we stand with the people of Malawi at this sad time,” he added as quoted by Xinhua news agency report.

Malawian Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine other individuals who were on board a military aircraft were found dead after the plane crash on Monday.

–IANS

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IMF approves 2nd financial review, releases $330 mn to crisis-hit Sri Lanka

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Colombo, June 13 (IANS) The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved Sri Lanka’s second review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) paving the way for the crisis-hit Indian Ocean Island to receive the third tranche of around $330 million.

“This achievement is a testament to our dedication to driving forward economic reforms and securing a prosperous future for all Sri Lankans. Onward and upward!” announcing the IMF’s financial approval, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry said in a post on social media platform X.

The third IMF tranche out of a $2.9-billion bailout package to recover from the worst-ever economic crisis since Independence followed the release of a second tranche of $337 million last December.

Gradually recovering from the crisis, Sri Lanka has been progressing toward debt sustainability, raising revenue, rebuilding its reserves, reducing inflation and safeguarding financial stability.

The IMF approved the bailout package in March 2023, a year after the 22 million people in the island nation were plunged into turmoil as it grappled with crippling shortages of essential food, fuel and medicines.

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The crisis triggered massive street protests which forced the powerful President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country and topple the government.

India played a major role in Sri Lanka to secure the IMF deal as the powerful neighbour issued the required guarantees sought by the Washington-based lender.

India’s Finance Ministry went on to the extent of issuing a letter to the IMF to confirm its support to Sri Lanka on the issue of debt restructuring.

Additionally, India also provided much-needed financial and humanitarian assistance of more than $4 billion.

–IANS

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US Fed keeps interest rate unchanged (Ld)

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Washington, June 12 (IANS) The US Federal Reserve on Wednesday kept the interest rate unchanged but hinted that there could be one cut between now and the end of the year as they continue the fight against inflation.

The Fed announcement came after a two-day meeting of its top officials.

They will meet four more times this year — July, September, November and December.

Fed’s interest rates determine interest on home and auto loans and credit cards.

Rate hikes are aimed at slowing down the economy by curbing spending, which is a tool used by Central banks around the world to battle inflation.

The Fed increased interest rate multiple times starting in early 2022 when inflation hit a four-decade high and took it up to 5.3 per cent in July where it has been kept since.

The Fed expected to announce three cuts in 2024 as inflations showed signs of coming down, but decided against it every time as inflation stayed stubbornly high.

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Inflation has cooled down notably since May and the Fed predicted that inflation could be more stubborn than expected and the overall rate could bottom out at 2.6 per cent by the end of the year instead of the 2.4 per cent they had estimated earlier.

The Fed aims to bring inflation under two per cent.

“We’ve made pretty good progress on inflation,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a news conference.

But to cut rates, he added, “we’ll need to see more good data.”

A report by the US Labour Department released just hours before the Fed announcement showed that the consumer price index — a measure of goods and services — remained unchanged from June and at 3.3 per cent over June last year.

In April the number stood at 3.4 per cent.

–IANS

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International

US Fed keeps interest rate unchanged

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Washington, June 13 (IANS) The US Federal Reserve on Wednesday kept the interest rate unchanged but hinted that there could be one cut between now and the end of the year as they continue the fight against inflation.

The Fed announcement came after a two-day meeting of its top officials.

They will meet four more times this year — July, September, November and December.

The Fed increased interest rate multiple times starting in early 2022 when inflation hit a four-decade high and took it up to 5.3 per cent in July where it has been kept since.

The Fed expected to announce three cuts in 2024 as inflation showed signs of coming down, but decided against it every time as inflation stayed stubbornly high.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will address a news conference shortly.

Inflation has cooled down notably since May and the Fed predicted that inflation could be more stubborn than expected and the overall rate could end bottom out at 2.6 per cent by the end of the year instead of the 2.4 per cent they had estimated earlier.

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–IANS

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Zelensky calls on Saudi Crown Prince in Jeddah

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Riyadh, June 12 (IANS) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah on Wednesday, media reports said.

Ukraine is bringing together dozens of world leaders and international organisations at the Burgenstock resort in Switzerland this weekend to mount pressure on Russia and outline a path towards peace.

Zelensky arrived in the coastal city earlier on Wednesday and was received by the deputy governor of the Makkah region Prince Saud bin Mishal bin Abdulaziz.

In a post on social media platform X, the Ukrainian President said the two leaders discussed preparations for the summit, “its expected outcomes and their possible implementation.”

Bilateral relations between Ukraine and Saudi Arabia were also discussed, Zelensky added.

Ukraine has invited more than 160 nations to participate at the summit and Zelensky has said garnering support from as many countries as possible will be key to the summit.

–IANS

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2019 Easter Sunday bombings: Lanka to probe why prior info from Indian intel was ignored

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Colombo, June 12 (IANS) Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed a Committee of Inquiry (CoI) to investigate the actions taken by the Lankan intelligence services on the prior information received from their Indian counterparts regarding the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings which killed around 270 people.

President Wicremesinghe’s decision follows the findings of the final report of the Commission of Inquiry dated January 31, 2021, which highlighted that Indian Intelligence agencies and other sources had provided advance warnings about the impending attacks.

“The committee’s mandate includes examining whether adequate actions and measures were taken by the State Intelligence Service (SIS), Chief of National Intelligence (CNI), and other relevant authorities based on the prior intelligence, and evaluating the sufficiency of these measures,” the President’s Media Division (PMD) said in a statement on Wednesday.

President Wickremesinghe has given full powers to the committee headed by retired high court judge A.N.J. De Alwis to question relevant officials and examine important documents to thoroughly investigate these matters.

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Additionally, the committee will investigate the circumstances surrounding the Directorate of Military Intelligence’s (DMI) initial belief that the Vavunathivu killing of two police officers on November 30, 2018, was connected to the LTTE.

This belief was held for four months before suspects with alleged links to the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) were identified.

A compact disk containing the final report of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2019 bomb attacks has been provided to the committee, with a Senior Assistant Secretary to the President serving as the Secretary to the Committee of Inquiry.

The committee is expected to submit its report, including findings and recommendations, to the President by September 15, 2024.

A series of coordinated bomb attacks on three star hotels in Colombo and three churches carried out by ISIS suicide bombers on Easter Sunday in 2019 resulted in the death of 270 people, including at least 45 foreign nationals, besides injuring over 500 others.

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–IANS

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