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Seminar on India – Sri Lanka Defence Cooperation held (Pics)

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The High Commission of India in Colombo organised a Seminar on Defence Cooperation with the theme “Identifying New Opportunities and Forging New Bonds” to promote Indian Made Defence equipment and explore avenues for collaboration in defence production today (April 10) in Colombo.

State Minister of Defence – Premitha Bandara Tennakoon was the Chief Guest. High Commissioner of India – Santosh Jha participated in the event with the Indian delegation led by Shri Anurag Bajpai, Additional Secretary (Defence Production), Ministry of Defence, Government of India. 

The delegation comprised representatives from Indian Defence companies including Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bharat Electronics Limited, Zen Technologies, SSS Defence, Bharat Forge, Big Bang Boom Solutions, AWEL, AVNL, Mahindra Defence, Sager Defence and TATA Advances System Ltd. 

From the Sri Lankan side, Chief of Defence Staff, Commander of Sri Lanka Navy, Commander of Sri Lanka Air Force and other senior officers from Sri Lankan Armed Forces, Police and Special Task Force graced the event, as also representatives of leading Sri Lankan business conglomerates.
High Commissioner Jha underlined the increasing diversification of India-Sri Lanka bilateral cooperation across domains, including in security and defence matters. He emphasised that because of geography, the security of India and Sri Lanka is interlinked and intertwined. India’s defence exports today stand at nearly 2.6 billion US Dollars, a ten-fold increase over the past five years. The High Commissioner stated that the seminar was another platform to explore ways of extending India’s increasing capabilities in the defence sector to Sri Lanka.

The State Minister of Defence lauded the growth of the Indian defence industry, and said that the seminar would facilitate collaboration between two countries contributing to a stable Indian Ocean Region. The Minister stated that the procurement of cost effective and tailor made products from India in the last decade had helped protect Sri Lanka’s sovereignty & territorial integrity. He emphasized that collaboration and joint R&D with Indian defence industries would also lead to the country’s economic revival. The Minister also thanked the Government of India for standing by Sri Lanka in the times of crisis.

Addressing the gathering Additional Secretary (DP), Shri Anurag Bajpai described Sri Lanka as India’s priority partner and reassured that India stands committed towards ensuring capacity & capability building of Sri Lanka Armed Forces as part of PM Modi’s vision of SAGAR (Security & And Growth for All in the Region). He highlighted the common security challenges faced in the Indian Ocean Region and called for enhanced collaboration to create a safer environment. He shared Atma Nirbhar Bharat’s, self-reliant India’s upward trajectory in establishing robust R&D and indigenous manufacturing ecosystems, while fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.

It may be recalled that a similar Defence Seminar cum Exhibition was previously conducted on 07 June 2023 at Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Armed forces have been successfully operating a range of Indian defence equipment like L-70 guns, Indra Radar, Offshore Patrol Vessels and Army training simulators. More recently the GoI has committed supply of Floating Dock, Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre and Dornier aircraft which would ensure capacity building of Sri Lanka Armed Forces. The Seminar was yet another reaffirmation of India’s commitment to building capacities for Sri Lanka, in line with the Neighbourhood First Policy.

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President Ranil conveys condolences at Iranian Embassy

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe paid a visit to the Iranian Embassy in Colombo this morning (22) to extend his condolences on the untimely tragic passing of the late Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi.

Upon arrival at the Embassy, President Wickremesinghe was warmly received by the Iranian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Dr. Alireza Delkhosh, and the Embassy staff.

During his visit, the President engaged in brief conversation with the Iranian Ambassador and others present, conveying his heartfelt condolences on behalf of the Sri Lankan government and himself to the Iranian government and people for the loss of the Late President Ebrahim Raisi.

(President’s Media Division)

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‘Tea for Harmony’ in Colombo (Pics)

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A Chinese cultural event was held in Colombo yesterday (May 22), featuring cultural components from the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region located in Southern China.

Titled ‘Tea for Harmony – Yaji Cultural Salon 2024’, the event showcased a catwalk featuring Guangxi ethnic wear , a Guangxi pictorial tour exhibition, traditional song and dance performances by China and Sri Lanka.

The event, which coincided with the International Tea Day, featured an intangible cultural heritage tea art experience as well as tea products from both countries.

The event was attended by a host of distinguished guests including Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka – Mr. Qi Zhenhong and Madam Jin Qian, Speaker of Sri Lankan Parliament – Mr. Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and Mr. Lai Fuqiang – Level-I Counsel of the Department of Culture and Tourism of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Addressing the gathering, the Chinese ambassador – Mr. Qi Zhenhong said that tea has become a significant medium for people in China and around the world to connect and be friends.

He added, “The people of China and Sri Lanka share a long history of growing, making, tasting and drinking tea, fostering exchanges and mutual learning. Though tea is produced in different places, it derives from a common source. Tea has become a common part of lifestyle of the two peoples and an important link to connect and bring them closer. I hope that everyone here today will enjoy a delightful cup of tea, watch the performances, and enjoy the wonderful time. I believe that tea, as a medium today, will further promote cultural exchanges between the two countries and strengthen the friendship between the two peoples.”

(Pics : Shanika Jayasekara)

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President highlights Global North’s failure in climate change financing

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered a compelling speech at the 10th World Water Forum, held in Bali, Indonesia today (May 20), highlighting the stark contrast between global funding priorities, pointing out the willingness of the Global North to fund death and destruction in Ukraine while showing reluctance to finance measures to combat climate change.
Accordingly, President Wickremesinghe proposed a 10% levy on the annual profits of global tax evasion assets deposited in tax havens, estimated at $1.4 trillion annually. He suggested that funds raised through this levy could support Blended Finance projects focused on climate change adaptation and mitigation.

In his opening remarks, President Wickremesinghe extended his gratitude to President Joko Widodo of Indonesia for hosting the event, which centres around the theme “Water for Shared Prosperity.” He praised Indonesia for its leadership in promoting the “Sustainable Management of Lakes” resolution at UNEA-5, emphasizing the collective responsibility in managing water resources, essential for all life and ecosystems.

Following is the speech delivered by President Ranil Wickremesinghe;

At the outset let me thank the President of the Republic of Indonesia, H.E. Joko Widodo for hosting the 10th World Water Forum in Bali. The theme ‘Water for shared prosperity’ focuses on collective responsibility in managing water resources, the life blood of all living beings and ecosystem services. This follows the “Sustainable Management of Lakes” Resolution proposed by Indonesia at the UNEA-5.

During the UNEA -6 held this year, the European Union together with Sri Lanka brought about the resolution “6/13 Effective and inclusive solutions for strengthening water policies to achieve sustainable development in the context of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution”.

I also take this opportunity to congratulate the Government of Indonesia for taking the initiative during the G20 Presidency to launch the Global Blended Finance Alliance. Sri Lanka expresses its willingness to become a pioneering member.

Climate Change and water stress are two sides of the same coin. The cumulative effects of Climate Change are the main reason for what we see today as the water resource crisis. According to IPCC projected climate scenarios till 2090, Sri Lanka’s dry zone will get drier and the wet zone will get wetter in an unprecedented manner. Sea level rise will cause salt water intrusion in coastal areas resulting in salinization of land. I took this example from Sri Lanka while appreciating the fact that this is what is happening all over the world.

In global terms the solution to water stress revolves around climate mitigation and adaptation. Combating the triple planetary crisis with specific measures aiming at water. In the Nationally Determined Contributions water is classified under the adaptation sectors. On the other hand, mitigation is equally important as emissions are the root cause. Combating the threats to water resources posed by climate change requires colossal amounts of financial resources.

The Global North has failed miserably in adhering to the commitments to provide financial resources for Climate Change. There is a notable lack of political will after the euphoria of the Glasgow COP was over. Climate Change denial is gaining ground in the West.

The establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund, after a long drag, if effectively implemented can help to bridge the gap. This is a big IF. The Summit for a new Global Financing Pact will hopefully reach a conclusion by September this year. Nevertheless, the final outcome will depend on the results of the US Presidential Elections in November.

The OECD in 2021 projected the investment for global water related infrastructure at US $ 6.7 trillion for 2030 and US$ 22 trillion for 2058. The UNEP Report 2023 “Underfinanced – Underprepared” estimate the under financed gap to combat climate change at US$ 194 – 366 billion per year. The Global North is willing to fund death and destruction in the Ukraine. But there is an unwillingness to fund measures to avoid death and destruction caused by climate change.

Since money is not coming our way in anticipated amounts and at anticipated pace, to overcome the resource gap, Sri Lanka presented to COP 28 the Tropical Belt Initiative. A novel concept of harnessing commercial investments in the natural forests, mangroves, swamps, grassland water bodies and other natural resources in the Tropical Belt towards tackling the triple planetary crisis. The Tropical Belt from the time of its existence has been a ‘shield’ for the whole world. It is a catalytic accelerator of solutions to the ongoing triple planetary crisis. Investment in the tropical belt will bring in transformative changes to combat the triple planetary crisis.

In this context, the Initiative on Global Blended Finance will enable the Global South to mobilise the much needed financial resources. The US$ 9.4 billion available to commence this fund is a good example of leveraging concessional finance. The Tropical Belt Initiative will also benefit from this facility. In this context Sri Lanka proposes a 10% levy on the annual profits of global tax evasion assets deposited in tax havens. The annual profits are estimated at US$ 1.4 trillion per annum. The levy can be enforced by imposing sanctions, similar to those imposed on Russian Banks on the Banks and the Financial Institutes which fail to implement the levy. The monies raised by these levies to be made available to be utilised by the Blended Finance projects on Climate Change adaptation and mitigation.

The Global Blended Finance initiative is a supplement to the Loss and damage funds – not an alternative. These two measures must work in tandem. Therefore at this forum, let us express our appreciation for the hard work done by Indonesia in proposing this Initiative at the G20 culminating the establishment of the Alliance Secretariat.

Again, our thanks to President Joko Widodo for his contribution both in respect to the management of water resources and for bringing together the Global Blended Alliance.”

The World Water Summit, themed “Water for Common Prosperity,” began on May 18 in Bali, Indonesia, bringing together world leaders, experts, academics, entrepreneurs, and policymakers. The conference aims to unite nations in a collaborative effort to address global water issues.

Since its inception in 1997, the World Water Summit has been held every three years, serving as a premier platform for countries worldwide to share experiences and knowledge on best practices for water management. The summit facilitates dialogues among stakeholders on water, sanitation challenges, and sustainable development goals.

This year’s event sees the participation of key United Nations organizations, including the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations International Children’s Fund, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and the United Nations Climate Change Organization.

Meanwhile, Indonesian President Joko Widodo hosted a dinner at the Bali Cultural Park yesterday (19) for the heads of state and representatives attending the conference. President Ranil Wickremesinghe was also in attendance.

(President’s Media Division)

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