Saturday, July 30, 2011

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Iran’s FM pledges Rs.220 million

  • Saturday, July 30, 2011
  • Aruntha Kanagaratnam
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  • Iranian Foreign Minister Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi has pledged to consider a grant of nearly Rs.220 million (US$ 2 million) for a refugee resettlement project in the North.


    Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi

    This follows a recent visit to Iran by Industry and Commerce Minister, Rishad Bathiudeen who has planned to commence a pilot project to resettle 1,000 families out of nearly 20,000 families who were driven out by the LTTE in 1989 - 90 from the North, sources said.

    Minister Bathiudeen told Foreign Minister Salehi during the visit that the government of Sri Lanka will provide land and other infrastructure facilities for the Northern Muslims to be resettled in their original homes which required US$ 5 million to build the first 1,000 houses to kick start the resettlement.

    He told the Iranian Minister that the Sri Lanka government, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa would give top priority if funds for housing were available.

    Minister Bathiudeen also thanked the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation for agreeing to spearhead this pilot project and also to provide micro economic assistance to set-up self employment in agriculture, fisheries and farming for the families who settle down back in their original areas of habitation.

    The Rs. 220 million grant will also be a gift from the Iranian government for the Northern resettlement programme in addition to the gift of the Rs. 165 million housing project in Batticaloa already completed and due to be gifted to the people at a ceremony on Saturday. The meetings were arranged by the Sri Lanka Embassy in Tehran, following a request by Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa inviting foreign aid to redevelop the North, devastated by 30 years of war which ended in the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009.

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