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Lanka, Turkish FMs powwow in NY

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Sri Lankan and Turkish FMs meet (pic courtesy Foreign Ministry)

Concerns over selective use of human rights by section of int’l community

Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris has expressed condolences on the death of two Turkish nationals as a result of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks when he met the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu at the Turkish House, the Chancery building of the Turkish Permanent Mission, in New York, for a bilateral meeting between them, on the sidelines of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Prof. Peiris is on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s delegation to New York.

Prof. Peiris has given an update on the investigations underway and the legal processes being taken to try those that were involved that had linkages to extreme groups. The two Ministers expressed the need to confront terrorism in all its forms as well as linkages to the rise of extremism and spoke against the politicization of human rights and selective use of human rights as tools by some parties, and pledged to expand international cooperation in the United Nations and other fora.

The following is the text of the statement issued by the FM: “Foreign Minister Çavusoglu recalled fondly his fruitful two-day visit to Sri Lanka in 2016. The Minister appreciated the arrangements extended to him during the visit. Foreign Minister Peiris also fondly recalled a number of visits to Turkey and commented on the rich experiences he had. The Foreign Minister of Turkey was happy to observe that a Hony Consul of Sri Lanka would take office shortly in his hometown.

In evaluating their mutual visits, the two Foreign Ministers noted that it would be an opportune time to enhance further contacts by visits and interactions at other levels, to strengthen the excellent ties of friendship between the two countries, particularly economic and trade ties. Foreign Minister Çavusoglu noted that despite the two countries being geographically far, the ties between the two were very close.

Foreign Minister Peiris noted the generous assistance given to Sri Lanka from Turkey during the COVID-19 pandemic with the provision of ventilators and other equipment and appreciated that Turkey had also extended support in the aftermath of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami where housing was provided. The Ministers appreciated that bilateral trade between the two had steadily increased from US 100 Million and was projected to reach US 200 million in the current year.

Foreign Minister Peiris highlighted that there was a need for Sri Lankan exports to Turkey to diversify from its 80% consisting of tea and noted that there was tremendous potential between the two countries to boost economic, trade and investment in growth areas such as construction and the pharmaceutical industries, where Turkey had expertise and Sri Lanka was looking at developing this area by having specific economic free zones for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals for the local market and beyond. The Turkish Foreign Minister underscored that the Turkish construction sector was the world’s second largest and that they had a number of projects globally and not just in their region.

The two Ministers expressed interest to finalise important agreements on Avoidance of Double Taxation and on Investment Promotion and Protection that could serve to provide opportunities for joint projects, investments and initiatives between both countries.

The Foreign Minister of Turkey noted their experience of successful Private to Public Projects for infrastructure, such as Turkey’s second international airport that would boost their role as an important global international hub.

The two Ministers also discussed enhancing people to people contact, including possibilities of exploring air connectivity between Ankara and Colombo and code-share flights to the region that could boost linkages and ties to new levels, including exchanges between the respective Chambers of Commerce and business sectors. Both sides undertook to expedite respective agreements that had been finalized and were at the last stages of implementation.

Foreign Minister Çavu?o?lu noted that he was to visit Sri Lanka, but that the visit had to be postponed due to the COVID pandemic. Foreign Minister Peiris extended an invitation for the Turkish Foreign Minister to visit Sri Lanka in the near future.

The two Ministers looked forward to expanding the friendly and close ties and expressed hope that further interaction may commence in the aftermath of the covid pandemic.”



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Speaker blasts ministers who often skip sittings

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Yapa

‘They are here only when Prez visits Parliament’

By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena expressed his displeasure over ministers skipping Parliament sessions while there were questions that they should be answering.

Following a heated argument between government MPs and their Opposition counterparts over explosions caused by defective domestic gas cylinders, the Speaker said that it was highly regrettable that there were no front-row ministers to respond to queries from the Opposition.

“I have noticed that all the ministers are present on the days the President visits Parliament. The ministers come and stay in the Chamber to mark their presence and show the President that they attend Parliament proceedings. Therefore, very soon I will have to request the President to come to Parliament everyday so that the ministers, too, would be here,” the Speaker said.

The Speaker pointed out that not a single minister was present in the front row either to the right or left of the seat of the Chief Government Whip.

The Speaker said that whenever a problem of national importance was raised by the Opposition, the government should respond to its questions. All ministers are duty bound to respond to questions from the Opposition and none should shirk their collective responsibility, the Speaker said.

Speaker Abeywardena said that he would summon a special consultative committee today (01) to discuss the gas cylinder explosions.

“Everyone including party leaders, officials of CAA and representatives of Litro and Laugfs Gas must be present at the special meeting,” he said.

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Fresh troops leave for overseas deployment

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SLAF personnel assigned for forthcoming mission under UN command

The annual change of personnel of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Aviation Unit, under the United Nations helicopter deployment in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) left the country during the early hours yesterday (30, November 2021).

The 7th contingent of 110 personnel, comprised 20 Officers and 90 Airmen, departed to Central Africa from the Bandaranaike International Airport. Wing Commander Sampath Liyanarachchi will lead this Contingent as the Contingent Commander. This contingent includes a female Officer, for the first time in the history of SLAF UN Deployments. This female Officer is one of the Medical Officers deployed with this Contingent.

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More gas explosions

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Several more explosive incidents connected to gas cylinders were reported from across the country in the 24 hours that ended yesterday noon.

A canteen at the Samurdhi Bank at Lidakumbura, Bibile, was damaged when a fire and explosion took place after the person who manages the place switched on the gas cooker yesterday morning.

A fire had occurred at a house at Thilinagama, Meerigama, on Monday night when the cooker there was turned on, police said,

In separate incidents at Meegoda and Lollegoda, Mawanella residents found that their gas cylinders were leaking and informed officials.

State Minister of Co-operative Services, Marketing Development and Consumer Protection, Lasantha Alagiyawanna, said that CAA had collected 12 samples of gas cylinders from the Ratnapura, Kurunegala, Gampaha, Galle, Kalutara, and Colombo areas to be tested. The lab reports had now been sent to the Moratuwa University and the university had appointed four experts to study the lab reports. The report was expected to be submitted in the next few days.

Co-Cabinet Spokesman, Minister Dullas Alahapperumam yesterday said that the Moratuwa University, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, the Government Analyst’s Department and the relevant institution would work together to determine the causes of explosions.

“Hopefully, we will be able to uncover what’s going on in the coming 24 to 48 hours. Everyone including my wife is scared,” he said.

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