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IORA Ministers welcome Sri Lanka’s lead in Maritime Safety & Security

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The Indian Ocean Rim Association held its 20th Committee of Senior Officials and 18th Council of Ministers sessions from 31 October to 2 November 2018 in Durban, South Africa on the theme: Uniting the people of Africa, Asia, Australia and the Middle East through enhanced cooperation for peace, stability and sustainable development.

In the country statement to the Council of Ministers, Sri Lanka’s head of delegation, Saroja Sirisena, Director General of Economic Affairs (Multilateral) of the Foreign Ministry highlighted the importance Sri Lanka places on regional cooperation and the sustainable use of the oceans.  Sri Lanka called for cooperative arrangements to be put in place towards realising tangible results enabling the people of the region to grow together. Sri Lanka also emphasised the need to increase intra regional trade and investment. It was also stated that in economic, strategic and environmental terms the Indian Ocean is poised to shape the planet in the 21st Century and Sri Lanka stands ready to play its role.

The report on the initial workshop to formulate the Terms of Reference for the Working Group on Maritime Safety and Security was presented to the IORA CSO. The IORA Ministers welcomed Sri Lanka’s efforts and progress made as the lead coordinator in the Maritime Safety and Security pillar and also the offer to host the first meeting of the Working Group in 2019.

The Ministerial Meeting was chaired by the Minister for International Relations & Cooperation of South Africa Lindiwe Sisulu.  In addition to the 21 Members States of IORA, the 7 Dialogue Partners comprising China, Egypt, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America participated at the session.  

As the Ministerial meeting coincided with the centenary of the birth of the legendary South African leader Nelson Mandela, a special commemorative declaration was adopted by the IORA Ministers.

Counsellor of the Sri Lanka High Commission in Pretoria Ms. Priyangani Hewarathna was part of the Sri Lanka delegation.

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Colombo

05 November 2018

Text in Sinhala (PDF)

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Foreign Minister Amunugama says "no justification for the changing Travel Advisories"

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Foreign Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama, said that there was no justification for the Travel Advisories issued by a few countries, since there have been no incidents of violence or disruption in the country following the recent events. The Tourism sector has not been subject to any inconvenience.

The Minister made these observations when he met with the leading inbound tour operators, Senior Officials of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), representatives of the Sri Lankan Airlines and other leading foreign carriers to discuss the Travel Advisories issued recently. He said that the Government was fully committed to safeguarding and improving of the tourism industry.

 Industry leaders   briefed the   Minister that in addition to regular flights,  TUI , one  of  the   world’s   leading  tour  operators, is  now scheduled to operate  03  Charter Flights to  Colombo  on   a weekly  basis  while  the TUI   Cruise Liner  is  also scheduled  to  use Sri Lanka as a Port of Call in   the  high  season. The  industry  leaders also  informed  that   Aeroflot has  announced     nonstop   direct  flights  from  Moscow  to   Colombo  from  28 October 2018  and  SWISS will  resume  its  direct  flights  Zurich – Colombo from 04 November 2018. Meanwhile   Lonely  Planet, one  of the   leading international travel  guide   publishers,  has   recently   named  Sri  Lanka  as   the world’s top  destination.   It was noted that presently there are around 4000 cricket fans from the UK in   Sri Lanka to follow the   English cricket team’s current tour. This was testimony to the peaceful environment prevailing in the country and tourists are enjoying uninterrupted access to tourist sites and facilities throughout the Island.

 The Minister also informed that since the assumption of his present portfolio he has instructed all Heads of Sri Lanka Missions overseas to personally make representation to the authorities concerned in their countries of accreditation in order to remove the Travel Advisories, to be in keeping with the ground realities in Sri Lanka. They will also maintain  regular interaction with the leading Travel Agents/ Outbound Tour Operators  in their  respective capitals to brief them on the peaceful situation prevailing in the island with a view to promoting arrivals. The Minister said that he planned to make Tourism Promotion a main aspect of the Foreign Ministry’s work programme.

Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha and Senior Officials of the Ministry were present at the meeting.

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Colombo

 

02 November 2018

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Foreign Minister meets Heads of Mission of SAARC countries

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Foreign Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama met the Ambassadors and High Commissioners of SAARC countries and their representatives at his office today (31). Heads of Mission and their representatives of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Maldives and Pakistan were present on this occasion to discuss matters of mutual interest. The Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ravinatha Aryasinha was also present at this meeting.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Colombo

 

31 October 2018

Text in Sinhala (PDF)

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New Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha assumes duties

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Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, a senior officer of the Sri Lanka Foreign Service, assumed duties as the Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today (31) having being appointed to the position by President Maithripala Sirisena.

The new Foreign Secretary Aryasinha was warmly received by his colleagues this morning, upon arrival at the Ministry.

Ambassador Aryasinha was previously Additional Secretary/ Economic Affairs and Trade in the Foreign Ministry since April 2018.

Having joined the Sri Lanka Foreign Service in 1988, he was Second Secretary in New Delhi (1989-1991) and Minister and later Deputy Chief of Mission with Ambassador rank in Washington D.C. (2002-2006). He served as Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and to the European Union from April 2008-June 2012, and as Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva and Consul General of Sri Lanka to Switzerland (July 2012-March 2018), while being concurrently Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the Holy See. Between 1995-2000 and again in 2007-2008 he headed the Public Communications Division and was the Foreign Ministry Spokesman.

On leave from the Foreign Service, in 1993-1995 he served as National Information Officer in the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka. Prior to joining the Sri Lanka Foreign Service, he was a pioneer in the setting up of Rupavahini, the National Television Network of Sri Lanka, where he served as a Senior Political Correspondent/ News Editor from 1982-1988.

Foreign Secretary Aryasinha is a past student of Ananda College, Colombo. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Peradeniya and a Master of Arts Degree in International Relations from the University of Colombo. He was a 'Hurst Fellow' in International Relations at the School of International Service (SIS), American University, Washington DC in 2001-2002.

Ambassador Aryasinha is married and has three children.

 Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Colombo

31 October 2018

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New Minister of Foreign Affairs assumes duties

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The newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Sarath Amunugama assumed duties at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Tuesday 30 October 2018.

The Minister was received by the Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Prasad Kariyawasam and senior officials upon arrival at the Ministry.

Foreign Minister Amunugama addressed the senior staff of the Ministry following his assumption of duties.

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Colombo

 

 

30 October 2018
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Sri Lanka participates in the Montreal International Tourism and Travel Show for the third consecutive year

 

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Over 36,000 visitors walked the carpets of the 30th edition of the Montreal International Tourism & Travel Show in which the Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa, in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, participated in for the third consecutive year.

The event, which took place from October 19 to 21 at Place Bonaventure in Montreal, attracted prospective travellers preparing for their trips, discovering new destinations and seeking expert advice on their future holiday destinations. More than one hundred countries were represented at this event through their tourism offices, tour operators and travel agents.

During the event, all visitors to the Sri Lanka booth were provided with maps of Sri Lanka and brochures. The Sri Lanka stall showcased tourist attractions illustrating the rich cultural heritage, beautiful landscapes wildlife, and provided an ideal opportunity for prospective visitors to catch a glimpse of what Sri Lanka has to offer. Representatives of the Sri Lankan tourism industry from Sri Lanka and Toronto were also present at the event.

According to the Annual Statistical Report of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, around 46,896 Canadian tourists visited Sri Lanka in 2017, which is a 6% increase in the tourists’ arrivals from Canada to Sri Lanka. It is expected that Sri Lanka’s participation at this year’s Show would further enhance Sri Lanka’s tourism potential in the Canadian market.

 

High Commission of Sri Lanka

Ottawa

25 October 2018

 

 

   

Diplomats from 23 countries attend Sri Lanka’s Foreign Policy and Economic Diplomacy Dialogue

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The Sri Lanka Foreign Policy and Economic Diplomacy Dialogue, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, commenced on Monday ( 15 October) with the participation of mid-career diplomats from 23 countries from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Australasia.

The two week long programme is held as part of the Economic Diplomacy Programme (EDP) of the Foreign Ministry and will primarily focus on Sri Lanka’s Economy with special emphasis on its emergence as a ‘Hub of the Indian Ocean’ and as a trade, investment, and tourist destination, while showcasing Sri Lanka’s international brands, entrepreneurship, as well as important strides in research and innovation. It will also explore Sri Lanka’s rich history and culture, aspects of foreign policy including positions on international politics, and thematic issues - good governance, sustainable development, and right to information, social media and cyber security. Sri Lanka’s key government officials, academics, scientists, and business leaders will participate in the discussions, and a 3- day field visit will follow.

Read more: Diplomats from 23 countries attend Sri Lanka’s Foreign Policy and Economic Diplomacy Dialogue

   

Sri Lanka successfully launches a platform to define the future of the Indian Ocean

Representatives of 40 countries were in Sri Lanka from 11-12 October 2018 to discuss the future of the Indian Ocean. “The Indian Ocean: Defining Our Future” , Track 1.5 dialogue  brought together senior representatives from the Indian Ocean littoral states and major maritime users to Colombo on an initiative by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, to increase focus on an Ocean that has the potential to become a growth pole in the world economy in the future. Representatives included, among others, key senior officials from India, South Africa, USA, China, Germany, Netherlands, Singapore, Indonesia and Japan together with key think tank representatives from the region and beyond. The UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean Ambassador Peter Thomson was also in Colombo for the Conference. President Maithripala Sirisena graced the occasion with his presence.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, delivering the keynote address of the Conference highlighted the need to maintain Freedom of Navigation and Freedom of Digital Connectivity for the region to grow and prosper and the need for a shared understanding in order to maintain peace and security.

This Conference provided an inclusive space for discussion and consensus building for littorals and users of the Indian Ocean. It explored four particular areas including the Indian Ocean’s future as the new global growth pole, safety and security at sea, sustainable and low-pollution development, and stability of the Indian Ocean within a rules-based approach.

Read more: Sri Lanka successfully launches a platform to define the future of the Indian Ocean

   

Launch of the Combating Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) e-Module

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An online training module, designed to enhance capacities of officials attached to Sri Lanka Missions abroad on combating human trafficking, was launched on 9 October 2018 at the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute (BIDTI) in Colombo.  The module, prepared by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be a part of the BIDTI's Electronic Learning Space. The Government of Australia has supported the initiative with financial assistance.

Launching the online training module, Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Prasad Kariyawasam noted that human trafficking “is a scar on our sense of common humanity and is an injustice to human beings.” He further said that “human trafficking endangers people’s health; and is linked to organized crime and many criminal activities” adding that the first steps in stopping trafficking lies in the ability of being able to spot trafficking and incidents of trafficking. In this regard, this training module has been designed to assist officers stationed at Sri Lanka Missions overseas to be properly equipped to identify, assist and protect victims of human trafficking.It is our hope that this training will help them acquire the basic skills to respond effectively and with sensitivity when they encounter potential victims of trafficking,” the Secretary added. He also stressed the importance of building partnerships in combating trafficking.

Secretary to the Ministry of Justice and Prison Reforms W.M.M.R. Adikari,  in her capacity as the Chair of the National Task Force (NTF) against Human Trafficking, reiterated the necessity to strengthen the coordination between key government agencies in combating trafficking in persons. The NTF, since its establishment in 2010, has been an effective inter-agency mechanism through which Sri Lankan government institutions share information, intelligence and best practices in addressing the crime of human trafficking, both within the borders of Sri Lanka and beyond.

In this e-learning platform, a total of seven modules have been developed to provide officers with a basic understanding of the crime of human trafficking including, and how it differs from, smuggling. The modules also explain the related legal framework, relevant international processes and Conventions, how to effectively identify and interview potential victims, refer cases for assistance, protection and ensure victims’ safe return, and further elaborates on the role and responsibilities of consular and diplomatic staff in this regard.

The High Commissioner of Australia to Sri Lanka Bryce Hutchesson, addressing the event appreciated Sri Lanka’s cooperation in combating trafficking in persons, and highlighted Sri Lanka’s consistently strong role as a member of the Bali Process against human trafficking. The Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime offers a regional platform for Asia-Pacific countries for policy dialogue, information sharing and practical cooperation. Australia is also a key bilateral partner of Sri Lanka in developing capacities of several government institutions, including the Ministry of Justice, Department of Immigration and Emigration, and the Sri Lanka Navy, on addressing the issues of human trafficking and people smuggling.

Chief of Mission of the IOM in Sri Lanka Guiseppe Crocetti noted that the content of the module is based on a counter trafficking training manual and forms part of IOM Sri Lanka’s “Combating Trafficking in Persons through a Public Information Campaign” project.

Director General of the BIDTI Ambassador Pamela Deen said that the BIDTI, as the Training Arm of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pleased to host this important module in its Electronic Learning Space.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken a proactive role in addressing the issue of human trafficking in recent years and due to the combined efforts of relevant government institutions, Sri Lanka has succeeded in retaining its Tier 2 ranking in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report in 2018, for the second consecutive year.

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Colombo

10 October 2018

 

Text in Sinhala (PDF)

Text in Tamil (PDF)

 

 

   

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