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SL ready to accommodate regional head office of China Dev. Bank close to Port City

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Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa on Tuesday (31) told the Speaker of the Parliament of the People’s Republic of China, Li Zhanshu, that Sri Lanka was ready to facilitate the establishment of the regional headquarters of the China Development Bank in the vicinity of the Colombo Port City.

Rajapaksa also asked Zhanshu to help facilitate a USD 1.5 billion fiscal transfer between the two Central Banks to overcome the current economic challenge. This transfer had been delayed due to some technicalities, he said. The Minister also called for expanded access to industries such as garments, tea and gems to enter the Chinese market under the Sri Lanka-China Free Trade Agreement.

Earlier the Speaker of the Parliament of the People’s Republic of China assured his Sri Lankan counterpart, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena that the Chinese government would help Sri Lanka overcome the challenges posed by the economic downturn and COVID-19.

Zhanshu made this statement at the first diplomatic meeting between the high-profile delegation of the Parliament of the People’s Republic of China and the Parliament of Sri Lanka.

Deputy Speaker Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, Leader of the House and Minister of Education, Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Foreign Affairs Prof. G.L Peiris, Minister of Youth & Sports Namal Rajapaksa, State Minister of Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasuriya, Secretary-General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake and Prof. Rohan Gunaratna represented Sri Lanka.

The Speaker sought the assistance of the Government of China in overcoming the economic challenges posed by the current COVID situation. Zhanshu assured full support.

Speaker Abeywardena highlighted that the Sri Lanka – China bilateral relations have grown from strength to strength since the establishment of formal diplomatic relations in 1957. He also thanked China for the unwavering support Sri Lanka had received to protect its sovereignty, promotion of economic prosperity, and in the sphere of international diplomacy.

China has donated 3 million vaccines and supplied 18 million in total, which has been instrumental in the vaccination drive Sri Lanka has undertaken.

Speaker Abeywardena also invited Chinese MPs to visit Sri Lanka. The Speaker of China said that they would visit Sri Lanka as soon as the COVID situation is resolved.

Meanwhile the Speaker of the Parliament of the People’s Republic of China said China would provide investment facilities for other investments, including the Colombo Port City Project. He assured that as Sri Lanka was a close friend of China, he would extend his fullest support to the Sri Lankan economy. Zhanshu said that once the COVID situation had settled the two countries could exchange delegations to facilitate those processes.

Yang Zhenwu, Secretary General of the NPC Standing Committee, Li Fei, Chairman of the NPC Constitution and Law Committee. Chairman of the NPC China-Sri Lanka Friendship Group, Zhang Yesui, Chairman of the NPC Foreign Affairs Committee, Hu Xiaoli, Deputy Secretary General of the NPC Standing Committee, Song Rui, Director of the Research Office of the General Office of the NPC Standing Committee, Wu Jianghao, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs (former Ambassador of China to Sri Lanka) represented China during the discussion.



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UK funds projects here to prevent conflicts that threaten its interests

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GoSL not among recipients

‘The CSSF is a cross government fund which supports and delivers activity to prevent instability and conflicts that threaten UK interests’

– UK Govt. website

The British High Commission yesterday (25) announced funding for projects worth £3.7m in 2022/23 here to thwart instability and conflicts that threaten British interests.

The announcement came after the conclusion of the visit of British Foreign Minister, Lord Tariq Ahmad, who is also Minister of State for South Asia, the UN, and the Commonwealth and the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict. The British official visited Jaffna and Trincomalee.

The British HC quoted Lord Ahmad as having said: “Building lasting and inclusive peace in Sri Lanka, based on reconciliation, justice and protecting human rights is key to a stable Sri Lanka, which can attract foreign investment and achieve its economic potential. We are pleased to announce continued support to Sri Lanka through the Conflict, Stability, and Security Fund (CSSF) to address legacies of conflict, promote human rights and build cohesion across all

communities through programme funding of up to £3.7m in 2022/23.”

In response to The Island query whether the Sri Lankan government would be among the recipients of CSSF funding, BHC spokesperson said: “The funding is for programmes and projects implemented with support from BHC. All CSSF programming in Sri Lanka, will be delivered through a combination of civil society, private sector, and international development partners.”

According to the UK government website, the CSSF addressed complex national security challenges and promote international peace and stability. The National Security Council (NSC), which is chaired by the Prime Minister and attended by senior cabinet ministers, sets the CSSF’s strategic direction. It is guided by the priorities set out in the 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.

The BHC stated: “Lord Ahmad met senior members of the government, including President Gotabaya Rajapaska and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. He discussed the importance of the UK Sri Lanka relationship and areas of mutual interest such as climate change and economic recovery from Covid-19. The Minister also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Sri Lanka on Healthcare Cooperation, which will improve knowledge sharing, best practice and expertise on healthcare, and develop an ethical and sustainable recruitment programme for the employment of Sri Lankan nurses and other healthcare professionals in the UK.

During his visit to the North and Eastern Provinces, the Minister met with local politicians and civil society. He discussed key Tamil and Muslim concerns, local governance and inclusive political engagement participation. He emphasised the UK’s support for open, tolerant and inclusive societies as well as freedom of religion or belief.

Throughout his visit to Sri Lanka, Lord Ahmad heard about the essential role civil society play in promoting respect for human rights and their views on how to make progress on reconciliation and accountability.”

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UGC Chief receives ‘The Order of the Rising Sun’ twice

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Senior Prof. Amaratunga poses for a photograph with Amb Sugiyama after receiving the title

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Senior Professor Sampath Amaratunga, Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) has received the prestigious Japanese title ‘The Order of the Rising Sun’ twice.

The academic received the title the highest order conferred by the Government of Japan in the name of His Majesty the Emperor, on 14 Oct. 2021 from the then Japanese Ambassador in Colombo Akira Sugiyama at his official residence.

For the second time, the UGC Chief received the same title from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at Dharmavijayaloka Vihara in Rukmale in Pannipitiya at an event organised on 22 January, 2022.

The Presidential Media Division said that President Rajapaksa after receiving the award

from W.K.H. Wegapitiya, Chairman of University of Sri Jayewardenepura Alumni Association and Japanese Ambassador Mizukoshi Hideaki presented it to Senior Professor Sampath Amaratunga.

Prof. Amaratunga poses for a photograph with President Rajapaksa

Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne delivered the keynote address on the occasion.

‘The Order of the Rising Sun’ is conferred by His Majesty on individuals who have made distinguished achievements in international relations, promotion of Japanese culture et al.

The Japanese embassy announced Senior Prof. Amaratunga and Manoj Fernando, Executive Vice President of the Sri Lanka Baseball/Softball Association (SLBSA) received the award.

The Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Most Ven. Ittapana Dhammalankara Thera has presented a memento to Japanese Ambassador Mizukoshi Hideaki.

W.K.H. Wegapitiya and Prof. Sudantha Liyanage, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, presented a memento to the President. The members of Maha Sangha, MP S.B. Dissanayake, Chancellors and Vice Chancellors of the Universities, and alumni of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura were also present.

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Cardinal insists on taking Easter killings to int’l community

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Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has said they are left with no alternative but to turn to the international community to seek justice for victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, according to a report published by the Union of Catholic Asian News yesterday (25).

“We tried our best to solve the issue within the country and do justice to our people but have failed,” he said during an online forum with an international audience on Jan. 24.

“The legal system under the Attorney General does not consider the recommendations of the presidential commission on the Easter attacks, therefore we have no option but to go international.”

Cardinal Ranjith had hinted in April 2021 of his intentions to not only approach the United Nations but also countries with global influence.

“We can influence those countries as the Church is an international organisation. We have connections all over the world,”he said.

A group of suicide bombers affiliated to local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamaath was suspected to be behind the bombings at three churches and three luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in 2019. The attacks killed 269 people, including 37 foreign nationals, and left around 500 injured.

Catholics in Sri Lanka have not been happy with the investigations and led by Cardinal Ranjith have vowed to fight for justice until the truth behind the attacks is revealed.

Cardinal Ranjith said he was not satisfied with the investigations underway since the recovery of a live hand grenade at All Saints’ Church in Borella on Jan. 11.

Muni, a church worker, has been arrested as a suspect by police but the local Church alleged he was being falsely implicated.

Cardinal Ranjith said that such a thing will not be allowed to happen. “We trust the judiciary to take steps to rectify the wrongdoing in the court,” he said.

The arrest of a retired doctor in connection with the same case had further raised suspicion, with Father Cyril Gamini questioning the police investigations.

“We understand that this is an attempt at fabricating a story. The whole country knows that this is a drama and we can see it is a very weak script,” he said.

Father Gamini was earlier questioned by the Criminal Investigation Department over his claims regarding the Easter Sunday attacks during an online forum last November.

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