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75 years of US – SL relations celebrated (Pics)

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United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung hosted an event in Colombo on June 22 to mark the 247th anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence. 

Ambassador Chung took the opportunity to also highlight the anniversary of 75 years of a strong and enduring partnership between the United States and Sri Lanka.  Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry attended the celebration as the Chief Guest.

American citizens around the world celebrate Independence Day, the day on which the country’s founding fathers gathered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 4, 1776 to sign the Declaration of Independence.  With the Declaration, America took its first step toward self-government, based on certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and government powers derived by the consent of the governed.

Ambassador Chung said at the event, “We firmly believe that from freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, spring the dynamism and entrepreneurism that can develop a nation, alongside the political and social stability that will secure it.  That is true in the United States, in Sri Lanka, and everywhere in between.”

Highlighting that the United States is one of Sri Lanka’s oldest partners, Ambassador Chung emphasized that mutual values and close collaboration have demonstrated that both countries can succeed together.  She said, “As we celebrate America’s national independence and our 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations, we are really celebrating a remarkable partnership with all the citizens and the Government of Sri Lanka.  For Americans, our founders stated it clearly, and to this day, we follow the course they laid – we respect and adhere to our Constitution in order to form a more perfect union.  The objective of the United States’ partnership with Sri Lanka is no less profound.”

A statement issued by the US embassy in Sri Lanka further notes :

Our partnership flourishes in government-to-government and people-to-people ties that deliver benefits to both Americans and Sri Lankans alike.  Since 1956, USAID has provided over US $2 billion in assistance across a variety of sectors, including nutrition, health, education, human rights and governance, disaster response, and the environment.  Just in the last year, when Sri Lanka was in the midst of an economic crisis, the United States Government provided over $270 million in new support, from fertilizer for farmers to funding assistance for small businesses.  

Our military-to-military relationship, which has grown steadily over the years, is focused on bilateral training, exercises, and technical exchanges that will ultimately help to build a resilient force that can contribute to ensuring an open, free, and peaceful Indo-Pacific region.  The Peace Corps has helped to form tremendous cross-cultural ties since 1962, with over 500 volunteers having dedicated two or more years of their lives, building capacities in Sri Lankan communities and developing relationships that will last a lifetime.

The United States is Sri Lanka’s largest export market, with $3.3 billion in exports in 2022 alone.  It is also one of the preferred destinations of Sri Lanka’s brightest, with 3,000 students travelling to the U.S. to study in the last year.  The U.S. Embassy directly supports other academic and professional training through exchanges such as the Fulbright and the International Visitor Leadership Programs, with nearly 3,000 Sri Lankans participating in these programs over the past 75 years.

Looking forward, the partnership that we have established will form the foundation of even greater development of people-to-people relationships; economic, political, and social progress; and a region that remains as free and open as it is geographically vital.

America’s friendship, commitment, and support in Sri Lanka have achieved much over the past 75 years, and that is worth celebrating.  That same friendship, commitment, and support will endure, and together we can build a brighter future for Sri Lanka and its people.

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President inaugurates 10th National Scout Jamboree (Pics)

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As the Chief Scout of Sri Lanka, President Ranil Wickremesinghe inaugurated the 10th National Scout Jamboree in Trincomalee today (Feb. 21).

 The National Scout Jamboree is being held in Trincomalee with the participation of 11,500 scouts, from SL & 28 other countries.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Jamboree, President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized Sri Lanka’s potential for rapid development and security enhancement through unified action. 

He stressed the event’s inclusive nature, transcending caste and religious barriers, and highlighted the significance of national unity in achieving common goals. 

The President pledged support for expanding the Scout Association, recognizing its role in fostering responsible citizens. 

Additionally, he announced plans for collaboration between the Scout Association and the Ministry of Technology to harness cross-sector interactions for national progress.

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Indian High Commissioner visits Northern Province (Pics)

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High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka – Mr. Santosh Jha undertook his first official visit to the Northern Province from Feb. 15-17, 2024. 

Diverse engagements during the visit attest to the deep-rooted nature of the bilateral partnership as also India’s firm commitment to deepening socio-economic and cultural ties with Northern Province, a media release by the Indian High Commission notes. With grant assistance of more than SLR 70 billion, Northern Province has been a region of focus in India’s multi-dimensional development cooperation partnership with Sri Lanka and the visit was an opportunity to reiterate India’s unwavering commitment to the people of the region, it adds.
The High Commissioner paid special emphasis to furthering connectivity initiatives, the central theme of the bilateral economic partnership vision document issued in July 2023. He visited Kankesanthurai (KKS) Port and the historic Talaimannar Pier and spoke of the need for expeditious resumption of ferry services between the two countries. He expressed confidence regarding earliest recommencement of Nagapattinam-KKS ferry in the coming weeks and informed his interlocutors of ongoing efforts for the resumption of ferry services between Talaimannar and Rameswaram. During his visit to Palaly Airport, he explored means to strengthen air connectivity through infrastructure development at the airport.

Underscoring the rich and shared cultural heritage between India and Sri Lanka, the High Commissioner offered prayers at the historic Ram Sethu (Adam’s Bridge). He also visited the ancient Thiruketheeswaram temple, which was renovated with grant assistance from the Government of India. He prayed for well-being and prosperity of the people of India and Sri Lanka as he paid respects at the Nagapooshani Amman Temple and Nagavihara in Nainativu island; revered Madhu Church in Mannar; and Nallur Kandaswamy temple. Further, he attended Thyagaraja Aradhana at the iconic Jaffna Cultural Centre, a gift from the people of India. 

Reaffirming India’s commitment to diverse sections of the society, the High Commissioner distributed deep freezers to fishermen communities in Mannar towards enhancing their livelihood opportunities. He also distributed dry rations to hundreds of needy families in Jaffna and Kilinochchi, with special focus on those headed by women. 

In India’s endeavour to contribute towards addressing energy needs of islands off Jaffna, he assessed the readiness for early roll out of the Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems Project in Nainativu Island. It may be recalled that this project is being implemented in Delft, Nainativu and Analaitivu Islands through grant assistance from India. 

The High Commissioner paid homage at the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) Memorial. 

The High Commissioner had engaging discussions with a wide cross section of stakeholders in the region including elected representatives, academics, and businessmen, among several others on avenues for further collaboration and development. 

(Pics : Indian High Commission in Colombo)

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Mace handed over to new Serjeant-at-Arms (Pics)

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Outgoing Serjeant-at-Arms of Parliament Mr. Narendra Fernando traditionally handed over the Mace and the Sword of the Serjeant-at-Arms to his successor Mr. Kushan Sampath Jayaratne this morning (Jan. 30) near the Chamber Door of the Parliament.

As the Serjeant-at-Arms of the Parliament Mr. Narendra Fernando is going to retire today (30) after serving in the Parliament for over 42 years, the Mace and his Sword were traditionally handed over to the successive Serjeant-at-Arms. 

Mr. Narendra Fernando, the 6th Serjeant-at-Arms of the Parliament, took over the duties of the Serjeant-at-Arms from the year 2018.

Accordingly, Mr. Kushan Sampath Jayaratne is scheduled to take over duties as the 7th Serjeant-at-Arms of the Parliament tomorrow (Jan. 31).


(Pics : Department of Communication, Parliament)

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