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China welcomes IMF’s positive role in supporting Sri Lanka

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As a traditional friendly neighbour of Sri Lanka and a major shareholder of the International Monetary Fund, China has always been encouraging the IMF and other international financial institutions to continue to play a positive role in supporting Sri Lanka’s response to current difficulties and efforts to ease debt burden and realize sustainable development. As to the bilateral financial cooperation, shortly after the Sri Lankan government announced to suspend international debt payments in April 2022, Chinese financial institutions reached out to the Sri Lankan side and expressed their readiness to find a proper way to handle the matured debts related to China and help Sri Lanka to overcome the current difficulties. We hope Sri Lanka will work actively with China in a similar spirit and work out a feasible solution expeditiously.

Meanwhile, on August 30, 2022, Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Liu Jinsong met with the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to China Dr Palitha Kohona. The two sides had a cordial and friendly exchange of views on China-Sri Lanka relations and international and regional issues of common concern.

“What lies behind Sri Lanka’s current economic and financial crisis are not only structural problems of its economy and unexpected factors such as the pandemic but also adverse spillover effects brought by the US Federal Reserve’s monetary policy,” said Liu.

Sri Lanka and IMF reach preliminary agreement for $2.9 billion loan

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Crisis-hit Sri Lanka has reached a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a loan of about $2.9 billion, the international lender said in a statement on Thursday.

“The objectives of Sri Lanka’s new Fund-supported programme are to restore macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability,” the statement said, outlining the 48-month long arrangement under the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility.

“Debt relief from Sri Lanka’s creditors and additional financing from multilateral partners will be required to help ensure debt sustainability and close financing gaps,” the statement added.

The debt-laden country has been seeking up to $3 billion from the IMF in a bid to escape its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.

Sri Lankans have faced acute shortages of fuel and other basic goods for months, leaving it in political turmoil and hit by runaway inflation, which is now at almost 65% year-on-year.

Click here to read this news on Reuters

( Inputs from Reuters)

Diplomacy: Chinese Ambassador violates the basic diplomatic etiquette – India

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In response to the opinion of the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Qi Zhenhong published in Sri Lanka Guardian last Friday, India stated that what Colombo needed now was “support, not unwanted pressure or unnecessary controversies” to serve another country’s agenda. Referring to India’s concerns about the docking of a Chinese spy ship in Hambantota, China on Friday said that “external obstruction” based on so-called security concerns without any evidence is a “thorough interference” into Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and independence.

“We have noted the remarks of the Chinese ambassador. His violation of basic diplomatic etiquette may be a personal trait or reflecting a larger national attitude,” the High Commission of India in Sri Lanka tweeted. It said Qi’s view of India may be coloured by how his own country behaves. “India, we assure him, is very different,” the Indian mission here said. The ambassador’s imputing a geopolitical context to the visit of a purported scientific research vessel is a giveaway, the mission said, adding that “opaqueness and debt driven agendas are now a major challenge, especially for smaller nations. Recent developments are a caution”.

In a statement hinting at India’s objection to the docking of a Chinese ballistic missile and satellite tracking ship ‘Yuan Wang 5’ ship at the Hambantota port, Zhenhong said that China was happy that the matter was dealt with and Beijing and Colombo jointly safeguard each other’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. “External obstruction based on so-called security concerns but without any evidence from certain forces is de facto a thorough interference into Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and independence,” the Chinese Ambassador noted in his opinion.

The high-tech ship ‘Yuan Wang 5’ was initially scheduled to arrive at the Chinese-run port on August 11 but it was delayed due to the mounting pressure from Indian officials on Sri Lankan authorities. However, respecting the diplomatic values Sri Lanka finally decided for the ship to dock in the port of Hambantota on August 16 for replenishment.

There were apprehensions in New Delhi about the possibility of the Chinese vessel’s tracking systems attempting to snoop on Indian defence installations while being on their way to the Sri Lankan port. However, independent Indian defence excerpts rebuked the tizzy of Indian media and some Indian officials reaffirming that the Chinese research vassal called in a port in Sri Lanka for purely genuine reasons.

Photos: Free meal project of Jaffna University

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Snr. Prof. Sampath Amarathunga, Chairman University Grants Commission visited the University of Jaffna recently and spent his time with students. He along with his colleagues enjoyed their lunch with students at the “Community Kitchen”, free meal project of the University of Jaffna.  Prof Sampath sitting with Prof S Srisatkunarajah, Vice Chancellor and V. Kandeepan, Registrar of University of Jaffna

Prof Sampath, chairman of UGC is taking a selfie with a group of students in the University of Jaffna [ Photo: Sri Lanka Guardian ]

Travis Sinniah: First Sri Lankan to Be Honoured by NDU

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On August 9, the National Defense University in Washington DC welcomed three new CISA alumni to the International Fellows Hall of Fame in a ceremony held in Sydney, Australia during NDU’s 16th Alumni Continuing Education Security Seminar, the statement issued by College of International Security Affairs of National Defense University (NDU).

During the event, Admiral (Ret) Travis Sinniah) has been recognized for his service as Commander of the Sri Lankan Navy. He is the first Sri Lankan to be inducted.

Meanwhile, Major General Abdulla Shamaal of the Maldives, who is also the first Maldivian graduate to be inducted and Major General Molefi Seikano of Botswana were also recognized for their respective services.

“We thank them and their families for their commitment to the service of their fellow citizens and to the safety and security of their respective regions and the globe. Together we can overcome today’s security challenges,” the statement further elaborated.

Admiral Travis Sinniah, WWV, RWP, RSP, USP, ndu, psc was a Sri Lankan admiral and the 21st Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy. He has served as the Commander of Sri Lanka’s Eastern Naval Area and as Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Fleet. He was the second Tamil to be appointed the commander of the Sri Lankan Navy after Rajan Kadiragamar in the 1960s.

Click here to watch his Farewell Speech as the Commander of Sri Lanka Navy;

Admiral Travis Jeremy Liyanduru Sinniah was educated at Trinity College, Kandy, and St. Joseph’s College, Trincomalee. He joined the Naval and Maritime Academy, Trincomalee, as an Officer Cadet in 1982, and graduated in 1984. He was selected to attend the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, from which he graduated in 1986. His training at HMS Dryad, HMS Mercury, HMS Collingwood and HMS Vernon at Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, has been among the best in the world. He has served on board British Warships during his time at Dartmouth.

Admiral Sinniah was the senior-most naval officer to be in active combat operations at sea during the war. He was awarded the highest combat medal (granted to a living officer) for exceptional valour and gallantry, the Weera Wickrama Vibhushanaya (WWV), and recommended for field promotion to the rank of Rear Admiral on account of his exceptional contribution to the war effort. His most significant Gallantry awards are the Weera Wickrama Vibushanaya (WWV), awarded for individual acts of gallantry and conspicuous bravery of a military nature of a high order in the face of the enemy, the Rana Wickrama Padakkama (RWP), awarded for exceptional gallantry in the face of the enemy and the Rana Sura Padakkama (RSP), awarded and re-awarded for gallantry in the face of the enemy. His other awards are the Uththama Seva Padakkama (USP), the Vadamarachchi campaign medal, the Riviresa campaign medal with clasp, the North & East operation medal with double clasp, the Sri Lanka long service medal with clasp, the Purna Bhoomi operation medal, the Sri Lanka independence 50th anniversary Medal and the Humanitarian operation medals for the north and the east with clasps.

The admiral received his specialization in Naval Communications and Electronic warfare at HMS Mercury, Petersfield, Portsmouth and INS Venduruthi, Cochin, India. He attended the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington, India and was conferred the Master of Science degree in Defence and Strategic Studies. He followed a special course on Diplomacy and holds a Diploma in International Studies.

Admiral Sinniah is a Counter Terrorism Fellow (CTF) of the National Defence University, Washington DC. USA and he was made the “Distinguished Graduate” at the NDU for the year 2005. Admiral Sinniah followed the Defence Cooperation Course conducted by the Defence Institute of Security Assistance Management, Ohio.

Admiral Sinniah is a front line Executive Officer who has served in all the Squadrons of the SLN. He has held the prominent appointments of Flag Officer Commanding Naval Fleet, Commandant Naval and Maritime Academy, Deputy Area Commander East, Commandant Volunteer Naval Force and Commander Eastern Naval Area. He has commanded the flag ship of the Sri Lanka Navy, SLNS Sagara. He served in the Elite 4th Fast Attack Flotilla as a Squadron Commander and subsequently commanded the Flotilla as its Commanding Officer (FAF4). In addition, he has served as Commanding Officer on board Sri Lanka Navy’s Offshore Patrol Vessels, Fast Missile Vessels, Fast Gun Boats and Fast Personal Carriers.

The admiral has held various staff positions at the Naval Headquarters, which include Naval Assistant to the Commander of the Navy, Staff Officer Projects and Plans, Senior Staff Officer Research and Development, Director Naval Projects and Plans and R & D and Deputy Director Naval Administration. He has also served as Deputy Area Commander of the Eastern, Northern and North Western Naval Commands.

Admiral Sinniah is a respected instructor and an eloquent speaker. He has represented the Navy at innumerable seminars and conferences, and presented papers at many of them. He spearheaded the establishment of the Naval wing for the Defence Services Staff College at Batalanda, laying down its syllabi and planning its initial courses.

Admiral Sinniah is a specialist in counter terrorism and littoral warfare. He was nominated to direct the Maldivian Defence Forces (MNDF) in formulating their maritime security strategy and counter-terrorism doctrine, which was implemented in 2008; it remains as the MNDF foundation policy on counter-terrorism at sea and on land.

Admiral (Ret) Travis Sinniah) of Sri Lanka, Major General Abdulla Shamaal of Maldives, and Major General Molefi Seikano of Botswana with CISA officer during the event [ Photo: Sri Lanka Guardian/CISA]

He was instrumental in the design and modification of naval guns for the SLN, working closely with Royal Ordnance UK, and in the design of the Super Dvora class of FAC with Israeli aircraft industries. He was also the design leader for the indigenous 30mm stabilized gun of the SLN.

Admiral Sinniah is a sharpshooter and an “X” marksman. He is an excellent IPSC practical pistol shooter who captained the navy team in 2001/2002. Admiral Sinniah is a keen sportsman, and represented the Navy in basketball, soccer, rugby, squash and badminton.

Admiral Sinniah is a battle-hardened officer who has been awarded and re-awarded for valour and gallantry. He led the Naval Task Force in the destruction of LTTE “warehouse” ships over a period of two years. This monumental operation, “Sagara Balaya”, was the turning point in the war against the LTTE, and heralded its end. He has 37 LTTE hits under his command, and counts over 70 hits by the fleet during his tenure as Commander of the Fast Attack Flotilla. Admiral Sinniah was the officer who apprehended the infamous LTTE ship “Kadalpura” with 19 black sea tigers on-board, including the LTTE second-in-command and 9 LTTE leaders, a significant milestone in the course of the war.

Admiral Sinniah has been mentioned in dispatches and personally commended by the President of Sri Lanka for acts of conspicuous bravery, exceptional gallantry and outstanding service to the nation.

Prior to his appointment as the 21st Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy on 22nd August 2017, Admiral Sinniah held the post of Commander Eastern Naval Area. After his appointment as the Commander of the Navy the veteran naval officer introduced a new deployment of naval ships and craft in the northern seas. The initiative produced imminent results causing a significant drop in the number of Indian fishing trawlers entered into the Sri Lankan territorial waters.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Life in Danger in Bangkok

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Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, is staying at a hotel in the heart of Bangkok and police are advising him not to leave for security reasons, a source quoted by local media in Bangkok has reported.

Mr Rajapaksa arrived with three other people on a chartered flight from Singapore at Don Mueang International Airport around 8pm on Thursday.

According to the source, the group had planned to land in Phuket but concerns about a possible information leak resulted in the flight being redirected to Bangkok.

At the hotel, the location of which was not disclosed, plainclothes officers from the Special Branch Bureau have been deployed to ensure his safety.

Officials have asked the former leader to remain within the hotel during his stay in the country, the source told the Bangkok Post.

Mr Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka on July 14 for Singapore amid massive protests over the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.

He resigned from the presidency after arriving in the city-state, where his visa expired this week.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told reporters on Wednesday that Mr Rajapaksa would be allowed to enter Thailand on humanitarian grounds but would be advised to keep a low profile.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai of Thailand said the former Sri Lankan president could stay for up to 90 days as he carried a diplomatic passport. Mr Rajapaksa has made no public appearances or comments since leaving Sri Lanka.

Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome yesterday took to Facebook to attack the government for allowing Mr Rajapaksa to stay in Thailand while “[turning] away Myanmar people fleeing war in the neighbouring country”.

Source: Bangkok Post

Pakistan Navy Ship Calls at Port of Colombo

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Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Taimur arrived at the port of Colombo on a formal visit yesterday morning (12th August 2022). The visiting ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy in compliance with naval traditions.

The 134m-long ship is commanded by Captain M Yasir Tahir and it is manned by 169 as the ship’s complement.

In the meantime, the Commanding Officer of PNS Taimur is scheduled to call on Commander Western Naval Area at the Western Naval Command Headquarters today. The ship is expected to remain in the island until 15th August and the crew of the ship will take part in several programmes organized by the Sri Lanka Navy to promote cooperation and goodwill between two navies.

Colombo call

Further, PNS Taimur is expected to conduct a naval exercise with the Sri Lanka Navy in western seas on its departure on 15th August.

Meanwhile, PNS Tughril an identical warship belongs to the Pakistan Navy arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit on 13th December 2021 and conducted a successful naval exercise with SLNS Sindurala off the western coast on 16th December. Naval exercises of this nature with regional navies will enable each partner to overcome common maritime challenges in the future, through enhanced cooperation.

PNS Taimur is the second of four frigates of Type 054 A/P being built for the Pakistan Navy. The lead ship of the class, PNS Tughril, was commissioned on January 24, 2022. PNS Taimur was launched on 29 January 2021, and the Chinese shipyard completed the ship in 17 months.

Pakistan signed an initial contract for the delivery of two Type 054 A/P frigates in 2017. An additional contract for two more ships was announced in June 2018. According to the contract, all four ships are built in China and the first two are expected to be delivered to the customer by year-end. HZ Shipyard seems to kept its commitment by delivering the second Type 054 A/P frigate on time.

The Pakistan Navy is currently undertaking an important renewal of its fleet, with the procurement of several modern platforms: In addition to these frigates from China, Pakistan will also commission new corvettes from Turkey and OPV from the Netherlands. It is also modernizing its submarine force. In 2016, Pakistan agreed to pay China $5 billion for the acquisition of eight Chinese Yuan-class type-041 diesel submarines by 2028 in order to shift the force balance with its archrival India.

The Type 054A is a multi-role frigate and is recognized as the backbone of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) fleet of surface combatants with 30 vessels in commission. They have a length of 134 meters, a beam of 16 meters for a displacement of 4,000 tons. They have a crew complement of 165 sailors and are fitted with:

  • a H/PJ-26 76mm main gun
  • 2×4 CM302 anti-ship missiles
  • 32x VLS cells for HQ-16 surface-to-air missiles
  • 2x Type 730 30mm CIWS
  • 2x Triple Torpedo launchers

In PLAN service, those frigates feature a Type 382 radar which shares a close resemblance with the Russian MR-710 Fregat radar. Unlike the Pakistan Navy variant – whose first ship-in-class is fitted with an SR2410C radar – the Type 054A in Chinese Navy service does not feature a long-range/metric wave radar.

Sri Lanka: Ex-President Gotabaya in Thailand

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Former  President Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived in Thailand today evening from Singapore marking his third stop since he left the country a month back. He was granted entry following a request from the Sri Lankan government.

Local media in Bangkok reported that he is believed to have arrived at Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport around 8 pm Bangkok time, via a charter plane from Singapore’s Seletar airport.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat said in a statement on Wednesday that temporary entry was granted on the grounds that he does not intend to seek political asylum.

According to Tanee since the former president holds a diplomatic passport he is allowed to enter Thailand without a visa for 90 days.

“The stay is temporary in nature with the aim of onward travel. No political asylum has been sought,” Tanee was quoted as saying.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told the media yesterday that permission was granted on humanitarian reasons. Mr Rajapaksa who left Sri Lanka on July 13 to the Maldives on an Air Force flight flew to Singapore on the following day.