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Chinese President Xi Jinping today (Nov. 15) arrived in San Francisco for a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden, and to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting.

He was received by California Governor Gavin Newsom, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other U.S. representatives at San Francisco International Airport.

Xi’s upcoming talks with Biden are the first meeting between the two heads of state since their vis-a-vis sit-down in Bali, Indonesia, a year ago. During their Bali talks, the two leaders reached a series of important common understandings.

In the face of complex international landscapes and at a time when China-U.S. relations are at a critical crossroads, Xi’s trip to the United States has drawn worldwide attention.

(Excerpts : Xinhua / Video footage : CCTV +)

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New ambassador to China to be sent soon – State Minister (Video)

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State Minister of Foreign Affairs – Tharaka Balasuriya says that the post of Sri Lankan ambassador in China, which had remained vacant for several months, will be filled soon.

Speaking exclusively to ”Sri Lanka Mirror’, he said, “We will certainly be sending an ambassador to China and we have already picked a very experienced officer from the Foreign Service.”

Emphasizing that “China no doubt is a very important country for Sri Lanka,” the State Minister added, “thus we have looked into one of the best officers that is available” to be sent in order “to further strengthen our relationship with China.”

The ambassador position at the Sri Lankan Diplomatic Mission in Beijing has remained vacant for nearly 07 months, ever since the previous ambassador – Dr. Palitha Kohona returned to Sri Lanka last August.

The President’s tour in 2023 October as well as the Prime Minister’s tour last month had taken place in the absence of an ambassador.

Speaking on the delay to appoint a new ambassador, the State Minister said that a time lapse between the exit of one ambassador and the appointment of another usually does take place. There are procedural delays and formalities which take place, he pointed out.

In addition to China, 07 more officers from the Foreign Service are to be appointed as new Heads of Mission in several other countries, Mr. Balasuriya added.

In a recent X message following an orientation programme for the newly appointed Heads of Mission for the year 2024, the State Minister had congratulated the newly appointed delegates.‍

According to reports, former ambassador to Austria – Majintha Jayesinghe is to be appointed as the new ambassador to China.

Ambassador Jayesinghe had joined the Sri Lanka Foreign Service in 1998 and was Ambassador in the United Arab Emirates, prior to the appointment in Austria. The diplomatic career entailed serving as Consul General in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China and Deputy High Commissioner in Malaysia.

The full interview of State Minister Tharaka Balasuriya with Sri Lanka Mirror Editor – Kelum Shivantha, is as follows :

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US ambassador dives to Godawaya shipwreck  (Video)

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The U.S. Embassy in Colombo, in partnership with the Central Cultural Fund’s Maritime Archaeology Unit, has undertaken a significant step in preserving Sri Lanka’s rich maritime history through the conservation and documentation of the Godawaya Shipwreck, the oldest known shipwreck in the Asia-Pacific region. 

This initiative, funded by the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, underscores the enduring partnership between the United States and Sri Lanka in cultural preservation and archaeological research. 
U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Julie Chung, along with Heidi Hattenbach, Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy, and Rasika Muthucumarana, Senior Archeology Officer of the Central Cultural Fund’s Maritime Archaeology Unit, led an inspection dive to the ancient Godawaya shipwreck off the coast of Hambantota. This venture is part of a broader effort supported by the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, which began funding the project in 2022 to study and safeguard the submerged cultural treasure dating back to the 2nd Century B.C. 

Ambassador Chung expressed her awe and the importance of the mission, stating, “Witnessing the Godawaya shipwreck firsthand at 33 meters below the surfaces of the ocean was a breathtaking experience, shedding light on Sri Lanka’s significant history as a pivotal maritime hub. The United States is proud to support this endeavor, enhancing the understanding of Sri Lanka’s historical role in global maritime trade and ensuring the preservation of its rich cultural legacy for future generations.” 

Adding to the Ambassador’s sentiments, Counselor for Public Affairs Heidi Hattenbach highlighted the project’s unique value, “We are honored to partner with the Maritime Archeology Unit on the study and preservation of this important site, a partnership that has supported skilled Sri Lankan divers and researchers to really dive deep into an important avenue of Sri Lanka’s maritime history.  Over the coming months, their dedicated efforts will deepen the understanding and accessibility of Sri Lanka’s underwater cultural heritage, paving the way for future archaeological discoveries and conservation initiatives.” 

Senior Archeology Officer Rasika Muthucumarana, reflecting on the technical aspects and the depth of the project, added, “Collaborating with the U.S. Embassy on this Godawaya shipwreck excavation project has been an honor. While the depths of our explorations present unique challenges, the shared commitment to unveiling the truths and preserving the history of ancient maritime routes and trade practices creates a strong bond between our teams. This partnership is a model for future cultural preservation endeavors.”   

Located in Galle, the Maritime Archaeology Unit (MAU) is dedicated to the preservation and exploration of Sri Lanka’s rich underwater cultural heritage, conducting extensive research, and applying advanced conservation techniques.  The Godawaya shipwreck, the oldest known shipwreck in the Indian Ocean and in the Asia-Pacific Region, is one of the MAU’s most significant ongoing projects.  Initial research efforts have unveiled a treasure trove of information, revealing that the ship was laden with a diverse cargo, including potential ingots of iron and glass, alongside finished stone querns and ceramic bowls. Through funding support of the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, the MAU has been able to safeguard nearly 200 artifacts unearthed from the wreck, ranging from clay pottery to metal objects and intricate carnelian beads. The U.S. funding has been instrumental in facilitating the initial stages of site preparation and enabling the unit to employ 3D modeling techniques for comprehensive site surveying. As the project progresses, the MAU is on track to develop a complete 3D model of the entire shipwreck site, a milestone that promises to revolutionize the field of maritime archaeology and cultural preservation in Sri Lanka.  The artifacts removed from the shipwreck will be on display in Colombo at the end of the year, and then will eventually be housed in a permanent exhibit at the Maritime Archaeology Museum in Galle for Sri Lankans and tourists to visit, view, and learn about the country’s rich history.  The AFCP will also fund an education program that will bring opportunities to learn from the Godawaya project to schools and students close to the dive site.

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9 agreements signed on China – SL cooperation

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The signing of nine new agreements between China and Sri Lanka took place yesterday (March 26) under the patronage of Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.

The Prime Minister today paid floral tributes to the martyred war heroes at the Monument to the People’s Heroes at Tiananmen Square, and after receiving the guard of honour from the Chinese military, bilateral discussions were commenced. Later, in the bilateral talks held in the Great Hall in Beijing, more attention was paid to increasing overall cooperation in the social, cultural, educational, and agricultural sectors in addition to economic cooperation.

The Prime Ministers of the two countries confirmed that a new chapter in the long-term friendship and cooperation between Sri Lanka and China will begin through the nine memoranda of understanding signed between the two countries.

Secretary to the Prime Minister Anura Dissanayake signed the agreements on behalf of Sri Lanka, and the secretaries of nine ministries signed on behalf of China.

A group including Ministers of the People’s Republic of China, Sri Lankan State Ministers Shehan Semasinghe and Ashoka Priyantha, and MP Yadamini Gunawardena participated in this event.

(Prime Minister’s Media)

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