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US Embassy hosts Youth Forum Leadership Summit 2023 to develop young leaders

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Ambassador Chung addressing the Youth Forum Leadership Summit 2023

The Youth Forum Leadership Summit 2023, organized by the U.S. Embassy, in Sri Lanka, in celebration of the 75th anniversary of bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and the United States, commenced last morning (13), in Colombo, with the participation of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, U.S. Ambassador Julie Chung, and 60 Youth Forum members from across Sri Lanka.

Conducted by the American Spaces in Colombo, Kandy, Jaffna and Matara, the aim of Youth Forum Leadership Summit 2023 is to develop leadership skills among youth that model inclusion, equity, and transparency.  This year’s summit is the first summit to occur since 2018, and will also include participation by MP Dr. Harsha de Silva, the U.S.-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission, exchange alumni from other Embassy programmes, and American Spaces partners.  The summit will conclude today (February 14) with interactive workshops and skill-building sessions intended to build the capacity of Youth Forum members to diagnose community problems and design innovative solutions to these issues that can strengthen the future of Sri Lanka, and with a service-learning project that will give back to Sri Lanka’s rich ecosystems.

“I am inspired to see our Youth Forum gathered here, representing the full diversity of Sri Lanka. Young people are the true future of the country, and their voices matter.  The positive, dedicated commitment of Youth Forum participants can be a foundation for their personal success and a more inclusive, prosperous future for the country,” said Ambassador Chung.

The U.S. Embassy’s Youth Forum members are Sri Lankans, between the ages of 18 and 25 years, who demonstrate positive, inclusive leadership skills.  Each Youth Forum team consists of 15 young adults from diverse backgrounds, all of whom are interested in gaining leadership training, project management experience, and building solutions for community needs with like-minded peers and community partners.  Each of the four American Spaces in Sri Lanka hosts its own Youth Forum group, providing opportunities for leadership, learning, and exchange throughout the year.  For more information on American Corners and future Youth Forum activities, visit the website of the U.S. Embassy, in Colombo.



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President orders probe into notification issued by Department of Immigration and Emigration

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It has been reported that President Wickremesinghe ordered an investigation into the notification issued by the Department of Immigration and Emigration requesting all  Russian and Ukrainian tourists to leave the country within 14 days.

According to the President’s Media Division (PMD), the relevant notification was issued without prior approval from the Cabinet of Ministers.

The decision had reportedly been taken as certain foreign tourists are running illegal businesses in the country.

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Contentious Chinese research vessel docks in Maldives

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Xiang Yang Hong 03 has previously visited Indian Ocean on several other occasions

A contentious Chinese research ship reached the Maldives on Thursday in the latest sign of the archipelago’s diplomatic reorientation towards Beijing and away from its traditional benefactor India.

Local residents said they had spotted China’s Xiang Yang Hong 3 at the Thilafushi industrial port near the capital Male.The 100-metre-long (328-foot) vessel was at an anchorage near Male on Thursday evening, according to the website Marinetraffic.

The Maldives’ pro-Beijing government said earlier the vessel was docking for a port call to rotate crew and take on supplies, on the condition that it would not conduct “research” while in its territorial waters.

Media reports in India had suggested that the vessel was conducting surveillance for Beijing.

India is suspicious of China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean and its influence in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which are strategically placed halfway along key east-west international shipping routes.Relations between Male and New Delhi have chilled since pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu won elections last year.

Muizzu has asked India to withdraw 89 security personnel based in the Maldives to operate reconnaissance aircraft by March 15.But the president has also insisted he does not want to upend ties with New Delhi by replacing Indian troops with Chinese forces.

Sri Lanka refused entry to Xiang Yang Hong 3 after two other port calls from Chinese vessels since 2022 raised objections from India.That included the ship Yuan Wang 5, which specializes in spacecraft tracking and which New Delhi described as a spy ship. (AFP)

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MP Harsha in Australia as “Special visitor”

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Harsha de Silva

Opposition MP and Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance (COPF) Harsha de Silva is currently in Australia as a special visitor.

Taking to ‘X’, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP said he had embarked on a nine-day visit on an invitation extended by the Government of Australia.

“My engagements with policymakers, academics, scientists and investment managers began in Melbourne and will continue in Adelaide and then public officials and politicians in Canberra,” he added.

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