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Sri Lanka’s President assails AUKUS and contests concerns about China

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Sri Lankan president Ranil Wickremesinghe assailed the AUKUS pact as a “military alliance” and an unnecessary arrangement that will backfire on the U.S., Australia, and the U.K.

The comments, from the head of a country widely viewed as having fallen victim to predatory loans from Chinese state-backed firms, highlight Washington’s challenges in courting non-Western countries skeptical of joining efforts to push back against Beijing’s malign activity.

“I think it’s a strategic misstep, and I think they made a mistake,” said Wickremesinghe this afternoon of AUKUS. He was addressing the Islands Dialogue, a conference hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation that convened leaders from Pacific island nations today, on the sidelines of the U.N.’s General Assembly meetings. He also said that it was intended to focus only on one country; though he did not name it, he was clearly speaking about China.

Throughout his remarks, Wickremisinghe criticized several Western diplomatic initiatives, saying he was taking a middle ground between the U.S. and China to staunchly advance his country’s interests.

He contested the Indian government’s claims that Yuan Wang 5, a Chinese ship that docked in his country in August 2022, was a spy ship. He said it was a research vessel and that his government had worked out a standard operating procedure for ships like that.

He also said a new port in Sri Lanka backed by the Chinese state-owned firm China Merchants Group was not linked at all to the Chinese military.

Wickremesinghe said that throughout his lifetime, he has seen the great-power blocs shift considerably.

“I have seen China and the U.S. taking on India and Russia. Now I’m seeing the U.S. and India taking on Russia and China.”

(nationalreview.com)

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French ambassador in SL, passes away

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The French Ambassador for Sri Lanka and Maldives Jean-François Pactet has passed away today (May 26).

According to the police, the ambassador has passed away at his official residence.

He was 53 years old.He has served as the Ambassador in Sri Lanka since October 2022.

A career diplomat, Pactet was previously Deputy Director of Culture and Education in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

From 2016 to 2019, Jean-François Pactet was in charge of the Ministry’s policy regarding global health, gender equality and education, and supervised French contributions to multilateral funds in these areas.

Prior to this, Jean-François Pactet has been posted at the French Embassy to the United States in Washington (2012-2016) and at the French Permanent Representation to NATO in Brussels. 

He was also a Deputy Spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Veteran singer and musician Ananda Perera passes away

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Renowned singer and musician Ananda Perera has passed away at the age of 67.

Family sources confirmed that he died while receiving treatment at a hospital in Kandy.

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Tea represents harmony, social inclusivity, says China – SL reps. to UN (Video)

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Tea as a popular drink shared by multiple countries around the world stands for harmony, diversity and social inclusivity, said representatives both of China and Sri Lanka to the United Nations at a ceremony held in the United Nations headquarter in New York on Tuesday.

The event themed “Tea for Harmony” was held to celebrate the International Tea Day, which also fell on Tuesday with a nod to China’s centuries-old tea traditions. It is co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of China to the UN and China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

“For thousands of years, tea has traveled along the Silk Road and the maritime routes to reach people around the world. Tea cultures from various countries, while sharing the same roots, have deeply integrated with their own customs and traditions. Just like this year’s theme ‘Tea for Harmony’ suggests, tea has indeed played an important role in promoting harmony within diversity,” said Dai Bing, China’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN.

In his opening speech, Mohan Peiris, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to UN, noted that tea functions as a means to bring people together for a casual chat, and thus helps to encourage social interaction and stands for inclusivity.

“Drinking tea promotes social interaction. Sharing tea provides an opportunity for individuals to come together. And that’s something we do here in the delegates lounge. It facilitates conversation. Let’s have a chat over a cup of tea. It encourages inclusivity. Community drinking can bring people together. Well, it also fosters equal footing. The very act of sharing a cup of tea is typically egalitarian. It’s big,” he said.

Products from Xinyang, a well-known tea-producing region in central China’s Henan Province, were highlighted at the event, with tea masters making drink with Xinyang Maojian, a widely welcomed local green tea at the scene.

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