Saudi Arabia recalls ambassador from Sri Lanka

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 16:31

Colombo/Riyadh: In a tit-for-tat move, Saudi Arabia has recalled its ambassador from Colombo amid tensions between the two countries over beheading of a Sri Lankan maid convicted of murder in the Kingdom.

Saudi Embassy sources in Colombo confirmed that Ambassador Abdulaziz bin Abdul-Rahman Al-Jammaz has left Sri Lanka, Arab News reported.

In January, Sri Lanka had also recalled its ambassador to Riyadh Ahmed Jawad in the wake of the execution of Rizana Nafeek last month convicted of killing a baby in her care in 2005 when she was 17.

"Based on the decision by Sri Lankan government to withdraw its ambassador from the Kingdom, the (Saudi) foreign ministry has recalled its ambassador in Sri Lanka for consultations," SPA news agency reported late yesterday quoting a ministry spokesman.

Last month, Sri Lankan government has announced that women under 25 were now banned from going to Saudi Arabia to work as maids.

Crimes like rape, murder, armed robbery and drug trafficking are punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. PTI
Obama talks to Republican Senators on immigration reform

Washington: In an effort to accelerate the process of immigration reform, US President Barack Obama has called top Republican Senators emphasising on commonsense reforms to include strengthening border security, creating an earned path to citizenship and streamlining legal immigration.

In his calls to Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Mark Rubio, Obama commended the Republican lawmakers for the bipartisan progress on this important issue, the White House said.

During the calls, which build on conversations that have taken place at the staff level, Obama reiterated that he remains supportive of the effort underway in Congress, and that he hopes that they can produce a bill as soon as possible that reflects shared core principles on reform.

"The President has made clear that he believes commonsense reform needs to include strengthening border security, creating an earned path to citizenship, holding employers accountable, and streamlining legal immigration," the White House said.

Obama is prepared to submit his own legislation if Congress fails to act, the White House said.

Earlier, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama has made clear that he is focused on the Senate moving forward on a bipartisan effort to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

"He supports that effort. He`s also made clear that if that effort stalls or fails, if progress halts, that he is prepared to submit his own legislation for the Senate to act on. But his preference overwhelmingly is for the good progress that`s been made by that bipartisan group to continue; for it to move forward to a point where a bill is produced that can be voted on and can win support of Democrats and Republicans, move to the House, win support of Democrats and Republicans and get to his desk for his signature," Carney said.

The blueprint that Obama has had online since 2011 that outlined his principles for comprehensive immigration reform is reflected very much in the proposals and ideas that Senator Rubio, for example, has discussed and the so-called Gang of Eight, the bipartisan group in the Senate has been working on, he added.

"The President remains hopeful that the Senate will move forward because is it absolutely his preference that that`s what happens," Carney said.


First Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 16:31
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