The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has decided to resume discussions on a funding programme with Sri Lanka.Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), met with Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy in Washington. Lagarde said they agreed that a strong policy mix, with effective implementation of that agenda, is key to strengthening confidence, while putting Sri Lanka on a sustainable, high-quality growth path that would benefit its people. “The IMF remains ready to support the Sri Lankan authorities in these endeavors and an IMF team is scheduled to visit Colombo in mid-February to resume program discussions.”The IMF had suspended the funding programme with Sri Lanka during the political crisis last year. (Colombo Gazette) “I was pleased to meet with Minister Samaraweera and Governor Coomaraswamy this afternoon. We discussed the challenging economic environment and the policy priorities for the country. The authorities stressed Sri Lanka’s continued commitment to their economic reform agenda under the IMF-supported program,” Lagarde said following the meeting.

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Rabat – The oppression of Sahrawi activists condemning human violations in the Tindouf camps continues. Following the arrest of journalist Moulay Aba Buzid in a demonstration held on Monday, June 17, the Polisario Front kidnapped a second Sahrawi activist in Rabouni on June 18.Pro-polisario news outlets reported that the front arrested Fadel Brika, who was taken to an unknown location after his arrest. A statement from the Saharawi Initiative for Change, quoted by FuturoSahara, described arrests of both activists as “arbitrary detentions,” as there were no arrest orders from the so-called judiciary authority of the Polisario Front.The arrests were carried out in response to comments and posts the opposition activists were sharing on their social media accounts.Read Also: Polisario Continues Kidnapping, Crackdowns on Sahrawi ActivistsThe pro-Polisario news outlets reported that the front intends to carry out further arrest operations in the coming hours to “silence opposition voices.”The arrest of Brika was confirmed by former Polisario member Mustafa Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, who has been following the violations in Tindouf camps, Algeria.Commenting on the arrest of Abu Buzid, Mustafa Salma said: “Every Moment Buzid spends in detention does not only condemn Polisario, but also the high commission for refugees as he was arrested  immediately after he left their office.”Despite the pressure that the front continue to face in the wake of the disappearances of Polisario members and activists, the Polisario has refused to reveal the fate of several arrested activists. . “I challenge [Polisario] them to keep journalist Buzid hidden now,” concluded Mustafa Salma.The family of Ahmed El Khalil, a  Polisario member who went missing more than 10 years ago, has been calling on the United Nations to intervene as the front remains silent on his fate

Addressing the Security Council today, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan outlined plans for reconstituting the world body’s work in Iraq while appealing for clear guidance on what role it is being asked to fulfil.Speaking just three days following the capture of Saddam Hussein, Mr. Annan said this development provides “an opportunity for a new beginning in the vital task of helping Iraqi’s take control of their destiny” by creating a secure and stable country.He stressed the urgency of restoring sovereignty to the Iraqis, and pledged the UN’s active engagement in this endeavour.But he also acknowledged the limits imposed by prevailing insecurity in the country. “Our on-the-ground engagement in important political and human rights work has suffered tremendously as a result of the 19 August bombing, which decimated the Office of the Special Representative, the core part of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq.”Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello was among the 22 victims of that attack. Earlier this month, the Secretary-General named a veteran UN humanitarian aid official, Ross Mountain, as Acting Special Representative.In his address to the Council today, Mr. Annan said the new envoy would head efforts to establish a core of UNAMI based outside the country while planning for the missions “eventual and incremental return to Iraq as soon as circumstances permit.”Until then, the Secretary-General said much can be done from outside the country, and pledged his personal involvement in this effort. “I myself remain in close contact with heads of State and government, foreign ministers and ambassadors trying to help forge international consensus on the way forward.”Mr. Annan called on Council members to provide “much greater clarity on what is expected of the UN by Iraqis and by the coalition in terms of assistance to the political transition.” He stressed that the UN was not standing aloof from the process. “The stakes are too high for the international community to just watch from the sidelines.”In appealing for clarity, the Secretary-General explained the responsibility he must bear in taking decisions on Iraq. “I need to weigh the degree of risk that the UN is being asked to accept against the substance of the role we are being asked to fulfil.” He called for the Council to specifically answer those questions.Above all, Mr. Annan pointed to the need for a credible and inclusive political transition as the best hope for stability and an end to violence in the war-ravaged nation. Towards this end, he appealed for international support to the Iraqi people who have endured so much. “They are now living through a process that will define the future of their country,” he said. “For their sake, and for the memory of those who have given their lives to help the people of Iraq, the process must succeed.”Speaking to reporters afterwards, the Secretary-General stressed again that the global community must come together in support of efforts to help Iraq.”I think it is clear that if we are going to be able to stabilize Iraq, we all need to work together and we need to rebuild international consensus,” he said, responding to press questions.Asked about Washington’s stance, Mr. Annan said it was his sense that the United States would like to see the international community come together to work to stabilize Iraq, help build a normal society, and foster a country which would be at peace with itself and with its neighbours. “I think there is an openness there.”To a question about the implications Saddam Hussein’s capture, Mr. Annan said the answer would hinge on how the world reacts. “There may be a new opportunity here, but it depends on how it is exploited by all concerned – to mend fences, heal wounds and move forward,” he said. Video of Annan’s address to the Council Listen to UN Radio report

Ohio State freshman defender Will Hirschman (11) controls the ball during the first half of the Buckeyes’ 1-0 season-opening win over Pittsburgh on Aug. 25. Credit: Joe Dempsey | Lantern Reporter.The Ohio State men’s soccer team (1-0) opened the 2017 season with a thrilling victory on a game-winning goal in the 90th minute by forward Michael Prosuk as the Buckeyes defeated the Pittsburgh Panthers (0-1) Friday evening at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in their opening game of the 12th annual Bert & Iris Wolstein Classic. This was the first glimpse of what might be to come from Prosuk, who appeared in his first game with the Scarlet and Gray after transferring from St. John’s University. Coach John Bluem was not surprised. “Nothing surprises me about Mike Prosuk,” Bluem said. “He’s a very interesting kid.”Prosuk was visibly excited about the game-winning goal, ripping his jersey off as he ran into the corner as he celebrated with the rest of his teammates. Prosuk received a yellow card after not being able to locate where he had flung his jersey.Prosuk and the coaching staff might have been the only ones at the stadium who anticipated Prosuk’s heroics.“Before I went in, (associate head coach Ian Gordona) told me, ‘Just keep going, don’t put your head down; you’re gonna get your chance,’” Prosuk said.Prosuk subbed in at the 72nd minute mark, and shortly thereafter had a breakaway chance at the goal in the 79th minute that ended with him lying on his face without finding the back of the net.Eleven minutes later, Prosuk found another opportunity on a cross from forward Marcus McCrary, where he scored the game-winning goal that electrified the home crowd. Goalkeeper Parker Siegfried played a large role in keeping the Buckeyes in the game. The goalie picked up five saves on the night, diving to block shots on multiple occasions. It was the kind of start the keeper from Granville, Ohio, was looking for to build off his 2016 campaign when he earned All-Big Ten Rookie Team honors.Siegfried said he felt more confident and comfortable in goal than ever before. “When I started tonight from the warmup on, I just felt like I wasn’t going to get scored on,” Siegfried said.Siegfried’s premonition came to fruition as he notched his fourth career shutout. The players and crowd were ecstatic in the aftermath of the Buckeyes’ opening victory, but Bluem wanted to make sure his team stays grounded. “You got to just take them one game at a time,” Bluem said. “Don’t get too high, don’t get too low.”

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