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New Indian Defence Adviser calls on SL Defence Secretary, Army and Navy Commanders

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After observing the health protocols stipulated by the government of Sri Lanka for diplomats arriving in the country, the new Defence Adviser to the High Commission of India Captain (Indian Navy) Vikas Sood had interactions with senior officials of the Defence Ministry and armed forces over the past week.

Captain Sood paid courtesy calls on Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne, Acting Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva and Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne.

During the interactions, marked by traditional cordiality and camaraderie between the armed forces of the two countries, a range of matters of mutual interest in bilateral defence cooperation were discussed. A strong commitment to further strengthen the defence relationship between the two countries was reiterated by participants on both sides.

It was noted that India and Sri Lanka enjoy a strong and growing defence relationship pillared on extensive cooperation in capacity building, such as through training, and other close linkages. More than 50% of all foreign military training slots in India are allocated to Sri Lankan defence personnel.

It was observed that commonality of security concerns and challenges as well as the mutual resolve to address them for ensuring peace and security in our shared region guide the bilateral defence ties. Regular high level exchanges and visits, joint training and exercises, ship visits and sports interactions are the key elements of this robust cooperation.

Satisfaction was expressed at several high level exchanges and interactions between the two countries in the field of defence this year, despite the travel restrictions in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic. Besides several delegation level visits, Maj Gen (retired) Kamal Gunaratne with Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, participated in Def Expo 2020 at Lucknow, India in February 2020.

The gratitude of India for the excellent cooperation by Sri Lanka Navy and Sri Lanka Ports Authority in the repatriation of Indian nationals from Sri Lanka in June 2020 when INS Jalashwa undertook a visit to Sri Lanka was conveyed. The smooth conduct of this operation is a testimony to extremely close ties between Indian and Sri Lankan Armed Forces.

It was also noted that in line with the commitment of the leadership of the two countries to cooperate in facing COVID-19 challenges, India had extended essential medical assistance to Sri Lanka in recent months. In this context, it was recalled that the Indian Navy had gifted two transportation pods to transfer COVID 19 patients and four thermal scanners to the Sri Lanka Navy.

In the context of sharing Sri Lanka’s valuable experience in effectively fighting COVID, the recent participation of Maj Gen HJS Gunawardena, Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army in a webinar organized by India for various partner countries including Bangladesh, Thailand and Myanmar to share best practices followed by Sri Lanka was appreciated.

It was noted that the participation of more than 400 Sri Lankan tri-services personnel in the celebration of ‘International Day of Yoga’ on June 21 this year at Sri Lanka Army Headquarters is further testimony to the close professional and cultural affinity between the two countries and their armed forces.

 



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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving

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Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest

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By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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