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SL under Indian pressure to retain 13A

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It was in Sri Lanka’s own interest that the expectations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and dignity within a united Sri Lanka should be fulfilled and Delhi insisted on the importance of the 13th Amendment in fulfilling those expectations, Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar said yesterday during a Joint Press Conference with Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.

He said: “That applies equally to the commitments made by the Sri Lankan government on meaningful devolution including the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The progress and prosperity of Sri Lanka will surely be advanced as a consequence.”

Highlighting that India and Sri Lanka had a shared interest in ensuring maritime security and safety, Jaishankar also offered Indian assistance to enhance Sri Lanka’s capabilities to meet growing maritime and security challenges.

“We have a long history of cooperation in this regard. India has been the first responder in emergency situations. I am confident that this domain of cooperation will continue to expand in the days ahead. We stand ready to enhance Sri Lanka’s capabilities to meet growing maritime and security challenges,” he said.

Indian External Affairs Minister also said that India was looking forward to an early return of their fishermen to the seas around Sri Lanka and that he hopes that issues regarding fishing disputes between the two nations could be sorted during the India-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group.

“We naturally look forward to an early return of our fishermen. I will also be meeting Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda later this afternoon to discuss this further.”

Jaishankar also said that India had been strongly committed to the unity, stability and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and that COVID-19 had not been able to dent the bilateral cooperation between the two nations.

He said: “High level contacts were maintained and indeed strengthened during the past year and the Virtual Bilateral Summit between PM Modi and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was a high watermark for us in 2020. I carry the message of an India that will always be a dependable partner and reliable friend, open to strengthening its relationship with Sri Lanka on the basis of mutual trust, mutual interest, mutual respect and mutual sensitivity.”

Jaishankar also said that both nations were now facing the immediate challenge of post-COVID recovery and that it was not just a public health issue but equally, a crisis of the economy.

“The Indian economy has also shown strong signs of recovery in the last few months. We are very confident that this will be full-blown by the next quarter. These developments will obviously have a positive impact on Sri Lanka. At the same time, there are specific challenges that need addressing, whether it is in finance or in trade. My visit is aimed at facilitating that process. We are now looking at post-COVID cooperation and I carry back with me Sri Lanka’s interest in accessing vaccines from India,” he said.

Minister Gunawardena observed that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had said that he was committed to the wellbeing progress and opportunities of all our citizens Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, etc.

“During our talks, we focused on multiple areas of mutual cooperation in the identified sectors of economics, finance, trade, commerce, defence, security and fisheries, cultural and particularly on the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic and the post COVID era that we are moving forward to and efforts we have jointly taken since the outbreak last year,” he said.

Gunawardena said that the Indian Government’s “Neighbourhood First” policy made a very positive impact on Sri Lankan health sector and the economy during the critical period of unprecedented crisis and also extended assistance to repatriate Sri Lankans, pilgrims, students and medically concerned.

Gunawardena said: “My delegation sought India’s partnership for our economic revival, stability through enhanced investments in different sectors of the economy. Of course, as close neighbours and being littoral states of the Indian Ocean, we discussed defence and security related matters, as well as the issues related to maritime and fisheries sectors.”



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Avishka and Sadeera power Jaffna Kings to nine wicket win

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Half tons by Avishka Fernando and Sadeera Samarawickrema powered Jaffna Kings to a nine wicket win over Dambulla Aura in the 3rd match of the LPL2022  at MRICS Hambanthota on Wednesday (07)

Dambulla Aura 121/9 in 20 overs (Jordan Cox 43; Maheesh Theekshana 3/20, Vijayakanth Vijaskanth 3/24, James Fuller 2/16, Zaman Khan 1/28)

Jaffna Kings 122/1 in 15.4 overs (Avishka Fernando 51 , Sadeera Samarawickrema 62 not out; Noor Ahamed 1/28)

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Govt. says selling state assets only way to build reserves and prevent crippling shortages

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena yesterday (06) said Sri Lanka wouldn’t be in a position to be part of the international trading system unless it boosted its foreign reserves by selling some of its assets. Gunawardena, who also holds media and transport portfolios said so at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

Responding to a query about the government’s decision to divest vital national assets, the Minister said that if Sri Lanka did not shore up its reserves to the tune of over three billion dollars, international companies would not accept the letters of credit given by Sri Lankan banks.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Finance Minister, has proposed privatising of several state enterprises including Sri Lanka Insurance and Sri Lanka Telecom.

“Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga sold a number of state owned enterprises. If we don’t increase our reserves, to over three billion USD soon, we will have problems importing fuel, and other essential items. Last week, Fitch again reduced our rating. No matter who governs Sri Lanka, they will all face the same problem. We need to build our reserves,” the Minister said.

Minister Gunawardane said that the need of the hour was to sell some assets and boost Sri Lanka’s reserves.

“China, India, Vietnam, and Malaysia are attracting a lot of investors. Only we have failed to do so, and we need to think why this is. Even our entrepreneurs are leaving for other countries. We need to change the way we think, if we want to attract investors to Sri Lanka,” he said.

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Ven Siridhamma, Mudalige granted bail; latter re-arrested

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Convenor of Bhikku Balamandalaya affiliated Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) Ven. Galwewa Siridhamma Thera leaving Court yesterday (06) after Kaduwela Magistrate Chanima Wijebandara granted him bail. The Thera was held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for causing damages to public property during a protest opposite the Education Ministry, over three months back. The Magistrate ordered the Thera released after the police failed to identify the monk at an identification parade. However, IUSF Convenor Wasanatha Mudalige, who was also released by the Magistrate, after the police couldn’t identify him, was taken into custody in connection with some other case.

Pics by Kamal Bogoda

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