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Sri Lanka to head Indian Ocean body for two years



Sri Lanka is to assume the chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) next Wednesday following a high-level meeting of the Council. More than a dozen member states, represented by both foreign ministers and senior ministerial delegations, will attend the meeting.

Foreign Minister Ali Sabry will chair the Council when the current chair, Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen, hands over the chairmanship.

Foreign ministers or senior ministers of IORA members and Dialogue Partners will arrive in Sri Lanka next week for the 23rd IORA Council of Ministers, which Sri Lanka is hosting on Wednesday in Colombo.

The Council of Ministers meeting in Colombo will see the participation of sixteen Ministers. They include Bangladesh Foreign Ministers of A.K. Abdul Momen, Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Maneesh Gobin (Mauritius), Dato Seri Diraja Zambry Abdul Kadir (Malaysia) and Dr (Mrs) Naledi Pandor of South Africa.

Also attending will be ministers and senior-level officials from Australia, Comoros, France, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, the Maldives, Mozambique, Oman, the Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, Tanzania, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen (member countries). Dialouge Partners China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America will also be represented.

The Council of Ministers is the highest decision-making body of IORA.

The Council will be preceded by the 25th meeting of the Committee of IORA Senior Officials (October 9–10), which will be chaired by Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardane.

The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), established in 1997, is an intergovernmental organisation of states on the rim of the Indian Ocean. Its membership spans Africa, West Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania.

IORA’s membership has expanded to 23 states and 11 dialogue partners. Sri Lanka will assume the chairmanship of IORA from 2023 to 2025 at the 23rd Council of Ministers’ Meeting.

The ministers will deliberate on ways to cooperate in the six priority areas identified by the association. They include trade and investment; maritime safety and security; fisheries management; disaster risk management; and the blue economy, among others, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

They will be guided by recommendations to be made by the 25th Committee of IORA Senior Officials.

The visiting ministers will also make a collective call on President Ranil Wickremesinghe and hold bilateral discussions with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry and other ministers during their stay in Sri Lanka, according to the ministry.



Heavy rains across the island




Due to South-West monsoon conditions which are gradually establishing across the island, prevailing showery and windy conditions will continue further, says the Met. Department.

Showers or thundershowers is to occur at times in Western, Sabaragamuwa, Central, North-western and Southern provinces and in Mannar district.

Showers or thundershowers will occur at several places elsewhere on the island, it said.

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

Fairly strong winds about 30-40 kmph can be expected at times over the island, according to the Meteorology Department.

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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Waymba Governor using 3 official residences!




It is reported that the Governor of the North West Province – Mr. Nasir Ahmed is using two more official residences in addition to the one he is entitled to as the governor.

According to reports, Mr. Ahmed is using the governor’s official residence located at the Kurunegala lake round. In addition, he is also said to be using the official residence of the Kurunegala mayor as well as an official house belonging to the North West Ministry of Agriculture.

Provincial Council sources also state that the previous governor – Mr. Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena too had used other official residences other than the one he was entitled to. However, the governors appointed before that, have not done so.

The occupancy of official quarters not entitled to the relevant official, is illegal and violates government circulars. 

(Souce : Aruna)

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi killed in helicopter crash, official says




Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister were killed in a helicopter crash in mountainous terrain and icy weather, an Iranian official said on Monday, after search teams located the wreckage in East Azerbaijan province.

“President Raisi, the foreign minister and all the passengers in the helicopter were killed in the crash,” the senior Iranian official told Reuters, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Iran’s Mehr news agency confirmed the deaths, reporting that “all passengers of the helicopter carrying the Iranian president and foreign minister were martyred”.

An Iranian official earlier told Reuters the helicopter carrying Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was completely burned in the crash on Sunday.

State TV reported that images from the site showed the aircraft slammed into a mountain peak, although there was no official word on the cause of the crash.

State news agency IRNA said Raisi was flying in a U.S.-made Bell 212 helicopter.

Raisi, 63, was elected president in 2021, and since taking office has ordered a tightening of morality laws, overseen a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests and pushed hard in nuclear talks with world powers.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate power with a final say on foreign policy and Iran’s nuclear programme, had earlier sought to reassure Iranians, saying there would be no disruption to state affairs.

Rescue teams fought blizzards and difficult terrain through the night to reach the wreckage in the early hours of Monday.

“With the discovery of the crash site, no signs of life have been detected among the helicopter’s passengers,” the head of Iran’s Red Crescent, Pirhossein Kolivand, told state TV.

Earlier, the national broadcaster had stopped all regular programming to show prayers being held for Raisi across the country.

In the early hours of Monday, it showed a rescue team, wearing bright jackets and head torches, huddled around a GPS device as they searched a pitch-black mountainside on foot in a blizzard.
Several countries expressed concern and offered assistance in any rescue.

The White House said U.S. President Joe Biden had been briefed on reports about the crash. China said it was deeply concerned. The European Union offered emergency satellite mapping technology.

The crash comes at a time of growing dissent within Iran over an array of political, social and economic crises. Iran’s clerical rulers face international pressure over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme and its deepening military ties with Russia during the war in Ukraine.

Since Iran’s ally Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, provoking Israel’s assault on Gaza, conflagrations involving Iran-aligned groups have erupted throughout the Middle East.

In Iran’s dual political system, split between the clerical establishment and the government, it is Raisi’s 85-year-old mentor Khamenei, supreme leader since 1989, who holds decision-making power on all major policies.
For years many have seen Raisi as a strong contender to succeed Khamenei, who has endorsed Raisi’s main policies.

Raisi’s victory in a closely managed election in 2021 brought all branches of power under the control of hardliners, after eight years when the presidency had been held by pragmatist Hassan Rouhani and a nuclear deal negotiated with powers including Washington.

However, Raisi’s standing may have been dented by widespread protests against clerical rule and a failure to turn around Iran’s economy, hamstrung by Western sanctions.

Raisi had been at the Azerbaijani border on Sunday to inaugurate the Qiz-Qalasi Dam, a joint project. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, who said he had bid a “friendly farewell” to Raisi earlier in the day, offered assistance in the rescue.

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