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SL should adopt ASEAN outlook of the Indo-Pacific  – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered a significant keynote address at the 11th edition of the Galle Dialogue; International Maritime Conference, which aimed to strengthen regional maritime cooperation and formulate a global strategy to face common challenges in the maritime domain. The conference commenced at the Jetwing Lighthouse Hotel today (12) under the theme ‘Emerging New Order in the Indian Ocean.’

Delivering the keynote address, President Wickremesinghe began by commending the Navy for recommencing the Galle Dialogue after the COVID-19 break. He emphasized the importance of rethinking the focus of the Galle Dialogue in light of the changes brought about by the pandemic.

The President pointed out that the focus should primarily be on the Indian Ocean and the surrounding area. He acknowledged the role of Dr. Ram Madhav, a pioneer of the Indian Ocean Conference, in drawing attention to the region. President Wickremesinghe highlighted the uniqueness of the Indian Ocean as a civilization rather than a construct, emphasizing its rich history, diverse cultures and religious significance.

He then discussed various global constructs, such as the Asia Pacific, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Indo-Pacific and how they differ from the Indian Ocean’s cultural and historical context. He stressed that the Indian Ocean represents a political entity, given its history and role in recognizing non-European sectors of the world as colonialism collapsed.

The President also discussed the economic significance of the Indian Ocean, predicting that development would shift from East Asia and the Asia Pacific to the Indian Ocean, India, Bangladesh, and Africa. He mentioned Africa’s potential for significant economic growth by 2050.

President Wickremesinghe underlined the importance of ports and their role in the evolving global trade landscape, emphasizing Sri Lanka’s strategic location and the development of key ports like Colombo, Trincomalee and Hambantota. He urged a long-term perspective on these developments and their global implications.

The President also discussed the changing dynamics in sports and noted that various nations from this region are expanding their influence in cricket and football. He emphasized the interconnectedness between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

In conclusion, President Wickremesinghe proposed that Sri Lanka should adopt the ASEAN outlook of the Indo-Pacific as two distinct oceans and prioritize freedom of navigation and undersea cables in the Indian Ocean. He acknowledged that the emerging order could rapidly change due to global events and emphasized the need for wise leadership and diplomacy in addressing evolving challenges.

President Wickremesinghe’s speech provided a comprehensive perspective on the Indian Ocean’s unique place in global politics, culture and economics and its role in shaping the emerging new order in the region.

Meanwhile, during his speech at the Galle Dialogue, Dr. Ram Madhav, President of India Foundation, addressed the current global transformation, noting the emergence of a new world order following the pandemic. He described this new order as multipolar and heteropolar, emphasizing that non-state actors, including tech giants, global agencies, NGOs, transnational terror groups and spiritual and religious movements, would have a significant influence on people and nations.

Dr. Madhav also expressed his condolences for those affected by the conflicts in Eastern Europe and West Asia. He recognized Sri Lanka’s role in hosting the 23rd meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers and congratulated President Ranil Wickremesinghe on assuming the Chairmanship of IORA, with India as the Vice Chair. Dr. Madhav emphasized the importance of developing IORA as a platform for promoting sustainable development, economic growth and stability in the region and he called for a commitment to creating a free, open and inclusive region guided by the rule of law, where sea lines are not used for piracy, overexploitation, or terrorism. He also expressed hope that the efforts by leaders like President Ranil Wikremesinghe would result in establishing the Indian Ocean’s distinct identity and role in the emerging world order.

Minister of Ports and Civil Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva, Minister of State for Defence Pramita Bandara Tennakoon, Governor of the Southern Province Willy Gamage, Senior Adviser to the President on National Security and Chief of Staff to the President Sagala Ratnayaka, Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne (Rtd), Chief of Defence Staff General Shavendra Silva, Navy Commander Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, Army Commander Lt. Gen. Vikum Liyanage, former Navy Commanders and other senior officers of the Navy attended the event.

(President’s media Division)

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New SL ambassador to China assumes duties

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The Ambassador-designate of Sri Lanka to the People’s Republic of China – Majintha Jayesinghe had assumed duties yesterday (May 20).

The post of the Sri Lankan ambassador to China was vacant for several months after the tenure of Dr. Palitha Kohona ended.

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Heavy showers today as well

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The Department of Meteorology says the Southwest monsoon conditions are gradually establishing over the island and hence, the prevailing showery and windy conditions will continue. 

Cloudy skies can be expected over most parts of the island.

Showers or thundershowers will occur at times in Western, Sabaragamuwa, Central and North-western provinces and in Galle and Matara districts.

Heavy showers above 100mm are likely at some places in Western, Sabaragamuwa and North-western provinces and in Galle, Matara, Kandy and Nuwara-Eliya districts.

Several spells of showers will also occur in the Northern and North-central provinces, it said.

Strong winds of about 40-50 kmph can be expected at times over the island.

General public is kindly requested to take adequate precautions to minimize damages caused by temporary localized strong winds and lightning during thundershowers.

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SL – Indonesia pledge stronger bilateral ties

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In a significant bilateral meeting during the 10th World Water Summit, President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Indonesian President Joko Widodo reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the longstanding relationship between their nations. The discussions, which covered a wide range of regional and international issues, underscored the importance of collaboration in addressing global challenges.

President Wickremesinghe, in his opening remarks, highlighted the historical ties between Sri Lanka and Indonesia, dating back to their joint participation in the 1956 Bandung Conference. He expressed appreciation for President Widodo’s leadership in regional, international, and bilateral matters, noting the importance of such summits in fostering global cooperation.

A major topic of discussion was the critical issue of water management. President Wickremesinghe emphasized the importance of the World Water Summit and expressed Sri Lanka’s willingness to participate in the Global Blended Financial Alliance, an initiative aimed at addressing common financial challenges faced by countries in managing water resources. He commended Indonesia for establishing a Secretariat for the Alliance, recognizing its significance for Sri Lanka.

President Widodo, in his remarks, focused on the economic cooperation between the two countries. He stressed the need to finalize the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) by the first quarter of 2025 to enhance economic ties. Additionally, he highlighted Indonesia’s interest in entering the Sri Lankan vaccine market through Indonesian pharmaceutical companies, and called for the lifting of import restrictions on Indonesian palm oil and related products.

The Indonesian President also showcased Indonesia’s advancements in renewable energy, specifically the country’s largest floating solar power project. He emphasized the importance of hydro diplomacy and political leadership in achieving sustainable water management and development goals. Furthermore, he welcomed Sri Lanka’s leadership in the Indian Ocean Rim Association and its aspirations to become a sectoral dialogue partner.

President Wickremesinghe reiterated the importance of completing the PTA by early 2025, noting Sri Lanka’s existing free trade agreements with India, Singapore, and ongoing negotiations with Thailand, Bangladesh, and Malaysia. He emphasized the potential benefits of joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), suggesting that Sri Lanka’s inclusion could encourage other South Asian countries to follow suit. 

He also mentioned the ongoing removal of import restrictions and assured that Sri Lankan health authorities would address the entry of Indonesian pharmaceuticals into the market.

The discussion also touched upon regional security and economic cooperation in the Indian Ocean. President Wickremesinghe supported ASEAN’s Indo-Pacific outlook and stressed the need for closer bilateral and regional cooperation regarding Indian Ocean affairs. He proposed more frequent meetings between heads of government and a specific bilateral agreement with Indonesia to enhance commercial collaboration in the region.

President Widodo thanked Sri Lanka for co-sponsoring the Global Blended Financial Alliance, emphasizing its role in achieving sustainable development goals. He called for continued collaboration between relevant ministries from both countries to support this initiative. Looking ahead, President Widodo mentioned the upcoming presidential transition in Indonesia and expressed hope that the new administration would continue to strengthen ties with Sri Lanka.

In conclusion, President Wickremesinghe expressed his eagerness to work with Indonesia’s new leadership and extended a personal invitation to President Widodo to visit Sri Lanka after his term ends in October. Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing bilateral relations and addressing shared global challenges through continued cooperation.

(President’s Media Division)

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