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India-China relations are at their most difficult phase: Jaishankar



BY S VENKAT NARAYAN Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, December 9:

India-China relations are at their “most difficult phase,” External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said here on Wednesday. He was referring to relations between the two Asian giants in the aftermath of a violent clash between troops of the two sides in June this year that led to the deaths of 20 Indian and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers.

Speaking at an event organised by Australia’s Lowy Institute think tank, Jaishankar said

China had offered five different explanations for amassing heavily armed troops along its borders with India.


Ties between the neighbours had been “very significantly damaged” by the move.

Ties between the two countries have been tense since May when India detected intrusions into Indian territory by Chinese troops. The two countries share an undemarcated border, seen as the reason for the differing perceptions of where the border lies.

Scores of rounds of talks between the two countries have not yet resulted in a solution though the border was largely deemed as peaceful, except starting this summer when the tensions rose.

Responding to a question about India’s cooperation with China without giving in to Chinese coercion and demands, Jaishankar sketched out a picture of ties over the past three-four decades. The last time the two countries had had casualties on the border prior to June this year was in 1975.

Since 1988 when then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited Beijing, the direction of ties had been broadly positive with an increase in trade and tourism amongst other types of engagement, he said.

“All this was posited on the fact that while we were trying to solve the boundary question, we would maintain peace and tranquillity on the border areas …. You never had a major breach of this understanding,” the minister said. A series of agreements were signed from 1993 onwards to ensure peace and tranquillity on the borders.


So far, the Chinese side had offered five differing explanations for amassing tens of thousands of soldiers with full military preparations right up to Line of Actual Control (LAC) border in Ladakh, he said.


The deaths of 20 Indian soldiers had “completely changed national sentiment” vis a vis China in India, the minister said. “How do we get the relationship back on track, that is a very big issue.”


“We are very clear that maintaining peace and stability along the Line of Actual Control is the basis for the rest of the relationship to progress,” Jaishankar said.


“The relationship this year has been has been very significantly damaged,” he said.

“We are very clear that maintaining peace and stability along the LAC is the basis for the rest of the relationship to progress,” he added.


On the ascent of Chinese President Xi Jinping up the power ladder and China’s rise in the world, Jaishankar said “there has been an evolution in China.”


“You have today a China whose engagement with the world is very different from the way it used to be conducted 20 years ago. You could argue that it is natural that as a country goes up the power hierarchy its behavioural pattern would change. I reserve comment on it. But clearly no question, you have a more nationalistic China. And that is expressed down the line in a variety of ways and often in policies as well,” he said.


On India-Australia ties, the Indian minister said that in the current context of a multipolar world, countries need to look “beyond old habits and established structures.”


“There is a requirement today of a lot of other countries with more capabilities to contribute to the shaping of the global order to ensure the global good, to secure the global commons,” he said.


Countries with converging interests and shared values who relate to each other in various ways could do a lot together not only between themselves but also in their respective regions and the rest of the world, he added.

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U.S. Ambassador to UN Agencies in Rome Cindy McCain to visit Lanka



Colombo, September 23, 2022: United States Permanent Representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome Ambassador Cindy McCain will visit Sri Lanka from September 25-28 to highlight U.S. food assistance programs in Sri Lanka and reinforce the U.S. commitment and lasting partnership with the island nation.

In addition to meeting with senior government officials and aid organizations in Colombo, Ambassador McCain will join U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung to travel to Central Province to visit schools, agricultural research facilities, and community organizations and meet with recipients and implementers of relief provided through U.S. government-funded humanitarian assistance programs.

The United States is the single largest country donor to the three United Nations food and agriculture agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Program (WFP).  U.S.-funded UN projects showcase how the U.S. government, the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies, and the government of Sri Lanka collaborate to reduce food insecurity and advance humanitarian relief, livelihood protection, and agriculture-led economic growth, especially at this critical time of increased global hunger.

The United States has provided partnership and assistance to the people and government of Sri Lanka for more than 70 years.  Since June, Ambassador Chung has overseen the announcement of nearly $240 million in new U.S. government assistance to Sri Lanka, including U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power’s September 2022 announcements of an additional $40 million to provide Sri Lankan farmers with fertilizer and $20 million to meet immediate humanitarian needs in the country.

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President urges SL diaspora in the UK to invest in their motherland



By Sujeeva Nivunhella
reporting from London

President Ranil Wickremesinghe last week urged the Sri Lanka diaspora in the United Kingdom to invest in Sri Lanka projects to revive the economy. Addressing a gathering at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London, he said that he is proud that the British Sri Lankan community for making a mark in every field of the UK economy such as trading, services, business, and requested them to come together as Sri Lankans and people of Sri Lankan origin to help build the motherland.

The President added that Sri Lanka is looking at transforming its economy to a competitive export-oriented one to meet the current challenges and build social systems and modernize the education system.

He remarked on the special affection Queen Elizabeth II had towards Sri Lanka as the Head of the Commonwealth and the longest serving Head of State of Ceylon for 20 years prior to the nation becoming a Republic and stated that her passing is the end of an era.

The president, first lady and party arrived in London on Sept. 17 via Dubai by an Emirates flight to attend the State Funeral Service of Queen Elizabeth II.They were received at the Heathrow airport by High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena and were driven to the Intercontinental Hotel in Park Lane, London where they stayed.

On Sunday (Sept. 18), the President accompanied by the First Lady and High Commissioner attended the Lying-in-State of the late Queen at the Palace of Westminster which was followed by a Reception hosted by His Majesty King Charles III at Buckingham Palace.The President and the First Lady attended the State Funeral Service held at the Westminster Abbey on Monday (Sept. 19).  On the same day, he signed the Book of Condolence. The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly MP hosted a reception for the visiting world leaders at Church House.

On 20th September, the President met the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland QC. They discussed Sri Lanka’s engagement with the Commonwealth Secretariat and matters of mutual interest. He also visited the London Buddhist Vihara during which Ven Dr Bogoda Seelawimala, Chief Incumbent of the Vihara and the Chief Sanga Nayaka of Great Britain invoked blessings on the President and the people of Sri Lanka.

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Families countrywide facing malnutrition, says Cardinal



By Norman Palihawadane

Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has warned that the prevailing economic crisis and increasing unemployment and food prices are accelerating malnutrition among hundred thousands of families countrywide.

Addressing a ceremony at the annual get-together of the Archdiocesan Family Apostolate Service held at St Peter’s College Auditorium in Colombo, the Archbishop said that it was a shame that responsible local officials keep denying the prevailing status quo when world humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF continue to warn of the increasing malnutrition levels among children.

Many international organizations have pointed out that malnutrition in Sri Lanka was increasing at an alarming rate but the authorities responsible are hiding the truth and go to the extent of rejecting such reports.

“If they reject the reports of international organizations, then it is their paramount duty of conduct proper surveys to understand the situation. It is no secret that large numbers of Lankan families are starving due to the high prices of food. According to the UNICEF more than six million people consume only a single meal a day. It is so unfortunate that Health Ministry officials who spend their times in the air conditioned rooms in Colombo do not know the plight of the poor in rural areas,” the Cardinal said.He said that 225 MPs were concerned only of their well-being while continuing to ignore the actual and pressing issues of people.

“This country is in dire situation today mainly due to inefficient and corrupt political leaders. It is sad that these so-called people’s representatives are not concerned of the situation of people who are experiencing the worst ever economic and political crisis this country has ever faced,” the Cardinal said.

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