Further, he said the Government provided necessary resources to national focal agencies to send more than 100 experts and professionals to various SAARC meetings outside Sri Lanka. The Foreign Minister said that although trade under SAFTA has been increasing, the total volume of intra-regional trade in SAARC is far below than its actual potential. Regional cooperation and integration in South Asia is vital for countries to improve competitiveness and productivity. Open trade, stable and friendly investment policies, could induce more FDI inflow to the region. Sri Lanka says its engagement with SAARC remains a high priority in keeping with the country’s commitments towards SAARC and to move forward the current SAARC activities in different spheres.Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, speaking at the thirty- seventh Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers meeting in Pokhara, Nepal today, said that last year alone, Sri Lanka was the host to eleven SAARC meetings and workshops relating to several important areas of cooperation. The Minister concluded by saying that Sri Lanka for its part will spare no effort to translate the vision of the SAARC Charter into reality. (Colombo Gazette) “Sri Lanka is committed to working with SAARC on promoting regional and multilateral economic cooperation. While welcoming joint proposals by several Member States to fast-track the reduction of the sensitive lists under SAFTA, Sri Lanka will also continue consultations with the stakeholders and work towards the further contraction of the existing Sensitive List in a phased manner,” he said.He also said that poverty alleviation and improving the living conditions of our people have always been a priority of SAARC but the region is still home for around 44% of the world’s poor. The Minister says there is an urgent need for SAARC to take early action to contextualise the newly adopted Sustainable Development agenda and develop an appropriate regional mechanism for its implementation.“Today, security challenges, both traditional and non-traditional, have become extremely complex and interwoven. The diverse, complex and advanced tactics used by illegal non state actors engaged in terrorism, piracy, trafficking, and smuggling need to be addressed with urgency through cooperation and coordination,” he added.
Hannah Pearson had been head captain of her schoolCredit:Raymonds Press Morton told the court that he had previously tried strangling a previous partner and was “curious” after “seeing it on a film”. The court heard Miss Pearson might have been unconscious through drink when Morton, who was a foot taller than his 5’3″ victim and six stones heavier, struck. On the day she died, July 23 last year, Miss Pearson had met her boyfriend, Jed Hope, in a pub in Lincoln to celebrate Mr Hope’s 19th birthday.Morton, described in court as a close friend of Mr Hope, was already at the pub when Miss Pearson, who lived in the village of Marston, Lincolnshire, arrived. It was the first time she had met her killer.The trio drank in the pub and bought more alcohol at a convenience store before Morton, whose parents were away, invited the couple to his house in Newark, Nottinghamshire.Mr Hope said he could not afford the train fare and was not allowed overnight visitors at his home so Miss Pearson, who had told her parents she would be staying over at a friend’s house, decided to go alone with the intention her boyfriend would join them there early the next morning.Mr Hope told the court how he asked Morton to keep Hannah, who worked for restaurant chain Pizza Express, safe as he kissed her goodbye at the station.However, once she was at his home, Morton gave her wine, beer and port then – according to the account he gave in the witness box – put her into bed and got in alongside her. A farmer’s teenage daughter was choked to death by a man who recreated a strangling scene he had watched on a pornographic DVD.Hannah Pearson, 16, was plied with alcohol by James Morton – a former McDonald’s worker and friend of her boyfriend – before “guiding” her to his bedroom, where he throttled her, a court heard as the killer was jailed for 12 years.After Miss Pearson stopped breathing, Morton dialled 999 and the schoolgirl was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.Morton admitted putting Miss Pearson in bed and climbing in alongside her before choking her. He said he had previously tried strangling another partner and was “curious” after “seeing it on a film”.He was cleared of murder, but found guilty of manslaughter following a two-week trial at Nottingham Crown Court.The 24-year-old had said the part-time waitress’s death took place accidentally as part of a sex game gone wrong, claiming she had kissed him first.However, a judge told Morton that Miss Pearson, who had been head captain of her school, was “intoxicated… and no position to object, trapped underneath you whilst you strangled her”. James Morton was jailed for 12 years after being found guilty of manslaughterCredit:Raymonds Press Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. But he said Hannah’s death was an accident, claiming under cross-examination that he had got “carried away” and was “disgusted with himself”.Judge Mrs Justice Carr sentenced Morton to 12 years in prison, of which he will have to serve at least half.She told him: “You enjoyed the domination, something you had seen on a porn DVD previously, and had also tried with at least one previous girlfriend.”I am sure, as the jury was, that Hannah did not valid and informed consent to this escalated activity in the knowledge that it carried the risk of some bodily injury.”She had never been involved in such activity before, was very intoxicated and, if not totally unconscious, then certainly confused and not thinking straight. She was in no position to object, trapped underneath you whilst you strangled her.”