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Sri Lanka to assume IORA Chairmanship for 2nd time

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Sri Lanka will assume the Chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) for the period 2023 to 2025 at the forthcoming 23rd Council of Ministers’ Meeting hosted by Sri Lanka on 11 October 2023 in Colombo. 

The Council of Ministers’ Meeting will be preceded by the 25th Meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials. This is the second time that Sri Lanka will assume the IORA Chairmanship, having previously served as the Chair from 2003 to 2004.

The Indian Ocean Rim Association is the only intergovernmental regional forum that brings together 23 littoral states of the Indian Ocean. There are also 11 Dialogue Partners in the Association. Sri Lanka is a founding member of the Association. The Indian Ocean Rim Association marked its 25th anniversary in 2022.

The Council of Ministers is the highest decision making body of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, and Foreign Minister Ali Sabry will be the Chair of the Council of Ministers during Sri Lanka’s Chairmanship. Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardane will chair IORA Senior Officials Meeting preceding the Council of Ministers.

Sri Lanka has chosen ‘Strengthening Regional Architecture: Reinforcing Indian Ocean Identity’ as the theme for its Chairmanship of IORA. Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the 23 Member States and the 11 Dialogue Partners or their representatives and Senior Officials are expected to attend the Indian Ocean Rim Association Council of Ministers and Committee of Senior Officials meetings in Colombo in October 2023.

The Member States of the Indian Ocean Rim Association are Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, France, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. The Dialogue Partners are China, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Türkiye, UK and USA.

The primary objectives of the Indian Ocean Rim Association are to promote regional economic integration, enhance trade and investment, facilitate sustainable development, and strengthen maritime safety and security and it focuses on several priority areas, including maritime safety and security, trade and investment facilitation, fisheries management, disaster risk reduction, academic and scientific cooperation, tourism and cultural exchanges, and women’s economic empowerment.

The Secretariat for Sri Lanka’s Chairmanship of IORA will function under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headed by Executive Director General Prof Sudharshan Seneviratne, former High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Bangladesh.  Officials of the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) and Sri Lanka Navy will be attached to the Secretariat, along with senior officials of the Foreign Ministry.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

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India, Sri Lanka Fishers Hold Firm on Fishing Rights

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Fishermen from India’s Rameswaram are demanding unrestricted access to harvest fish in the waters near Sri Lanka.

However, the Sri Lankan fishermen have reiterated their stance, asserting that there can be no room for concessions.

The recent sentencing of four Indian fishermen by the Delft court for trespassing in the Sea of Sri Lanka has ignited tensions, prompting protest actions among Tamil Nadu’s fishing community.

In response to the court’s decision, the President of Rameswaram Fishermen’s Association engaged in dialogue with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin.

“The fishermen detained in Sri Lankan prisons must be released. The boats held by the Sri Lanka Navy must also be released. As a permanent solution to the issue, Sri Lankan fishermen in Indian prisons, and Sri Lankan boats must be released,” said  P. Jesuraj, the Leader of the Rameswaram Fishermen’s Association.

The fishing community in Jaffna emphasize that there can be no further leniency or accommodation for any actions that violate established norms.

“The fishing community in the North have been very lenient with the fishermen from Tamil Nadu despite the use of Bottom Trawling to pillage our marine resources. Therefore, we will no longer allow them to pillage the Sea of Sri Lanka using illegal methods,” said Annalingam Annarasa, the Secretary of the Delft Fisheries Association.

(newsfirst.lk)

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“14.3% Surge in new HIV infections in 2023, reveals national program”

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The National Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS Prevention Program states that the reporting of new HIV infections has increased by 14.3 percent.

This is higher in 2023 compared to 2022, director, Dr. Janaki Vidanapathirana, community medicine specialist said.
She said that last year, 694 new HIV infected people were identified, most of them were men, and the number is 611, which as percentage is 88%. Last year, 81 HIV infected women were reported, which is 11.7 percent as a percentage. It is also
reported that there are 4100 infected people in society.

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Sri Lanka to Host Digital Economy Summit in July

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The State Minister for Technology, Mr. Kanaka Herath, announced that the anticipated National Cyber Security Act will be introduced this year, followed by the establishment of the Cyber Security Authority.

Additionally, the State Minister underscored the preparations made for the Digital Economy Summit scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka by the end of July. The summit serves as a platform for fostering innovation, collaboration, and investment in digital technologies, thus propelling the country towards a more resilient and prosperous digital economy.

Speaking at a press briefing titled “Collective Path to a Stable Country” held at the President Media Centre (PMC) today (29),

State Minister Herath further said;

The digital economy, which previously stood at 4.73%, has now surpassed the 5% mark, indicating significant growth.

This expansion has notably bolstered the country’s overall economic resilience. To further enhance this momentum, preparations are underway for the Digital Economy Summit scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka at the end of July. The summit aims to attract both local and foreign investors, with collaborative efforts from foreign embassies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Investment Promotion facilitating this initiative.

Furthermore, a sum of Rs. 50 million derived from the profits of Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) was allocated to the treasury in the previous year. In line with President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s proposal, a new initiative has been launched to uplift small and medium-sized industrialists, who constitute 52% of the country’s economy. This endeavour seeks to empower such enterprises technologically, offering them Good manufacturing practice (GMP) and SLSI certifications. Additionally, plans are underway to facilitate access to low-interest loans through the Asian Development Bank (ADB), with the ultimate goal of guiding these small and medium-sized industrialists into the market.

(dailynews.lk)

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