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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

NAM summit focus on global financial crisis

President makes statement today

President Mahinda Rajapaksa will attend the 15th summit of Heads of State of the Non-Aligned Movement that opens in Sharm El-Sheikh, today (July 15) at the Maritime Congress Center, which will focus on issues facing the developing countries due to the current word economic and financial crises caused mainly by the policies of the developed countries of the West.

The gathering 117 nations from across the world will see the re-endorsement of the basic principles of the NAM.

At today's NAM summit the Chair of NAM will be handed over to the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak from the President of Cuba.

President Rajapaksa is due to address the general debate on International Solidarity for Peace and Development, that will be held this afternoon. The topic of the debate is the Current Global Economic and Financial Crises, where the focus will be on new approaches to addressing these crises that affect the entire world and mainly the developing countries.

The subject of terrorism and strategies to combat it will also feature prominently in the debates and discussions during the current NAM summit.

This is the first NAM summit and major international conference attended by President Rajapaksa after Sri Lanka's successful military defeat of the LTTE and separatist terrorism in the country after 30 years.

The members of NAM will also discuss the need to combat terrorism worldwide which safeguarding national sovereignty from outside pressure.

Sri Lanka's President has a very busy schedule today with several bilateral meetings, scheduled on the sidelines of the NAM Summit. Among them is a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon. Later today where the focus is expected to be Sri Lanka's progress in widening democracy after the defeat of the LTTE, the conditions of the IDPs in the North and the government's plans to re-settle and rehabilitate them in 180days and the assistance that UN can give in the re-settlement and rehabilitation process.

President Rajapaksa is also expected to have bilateral talks with the President of Serbia, Boris Tadic and the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Syed Gilam, today.

Courtesy: President Media Unit

Gates says Lanka poised for greater growth

President commends ICTA, Microsoft for removing
language barriers in computer applications with the launch
of Sinhala interface pack

Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Monday expressed his optimism that Sri Lanka “is poised for greater economic growth and development” and expressed the global giant’s support since much of future prosperity would be fueled by the use of software and the power of IT.
Positive sentiments by Gates, one of the world’s richest entrepreneurs, were conveyed to none other than President Mahinda Rajapakse via a special audio visual message at a ceremony to handover a plaque incorporating the first copy of the Sinhala Language Interface Pack (LIP), from Microsoft and ICTA, paving the way towards making significant progress in Rural ICT adoption in Sri Lanka.
The presentation was part of Microsoft and ICTA efforts to mark the “Year of English and IT Services” this year.
Gates said he was “very excited to learn about plans for the year which have a clear focus on IT, because this initiative demonstrates” that President Rajapaksa, and his government recognize the extraordinary potential that information technology has to dramatically improve people’s lives in the country.
Sri Lanka has an advantage though, with a government that’s committed to investing further in IT, as outlined in President Rajapaksa’s vision statement. Like President Rajapaksa, I am optimistic that the country is poised for greater economic growth and development and much of that will be fueled by the use of software and the power of IT. Sri Lanka’s high literacy rate, at over 90%, and its high standards of education and healthcare give it a strong economic foundation. The country’s IT literacy rate is nearing 20%, which represents a significant jump from 8% only a few years ago. English language speaking skills are also a crucial part of the foundation for future growth. I am pleased to see that the government has identified the importance of English language skills by declaring 2009 the Year of English and IT Services,” Gates said in his message.
He also emphasised that on its part, Microsoft stands ready to fully support the initiative and Sri Lanka’s broader IT-objectives over the long term. The theme of the work we do in Sri Lanka is “Creating Employability.” Through our Partners in Learning and Community Technology Skills Programs and our other initiatives, Microsoft has partnered with educational and non-governmental organisations in Sri Lanka to bring IT skills and training to over a million people across the country. These efforts have reached students, teachers, academia, rural communities, IT professionals, and migrant workers. To date, Microsoft has invested over 450 million rupees in Sri Lanka towards these programs and plans similar investments over the coming years. We have already made Windows Vista Sinhala enabled, and we are currently localizing our Office Suite for Sri Lanka,” he said.
“Microsoft’s presence in Sri Lanka continues to grow in many ways, and we are committed to deepening existing partnerships and building new ones. Working together, there is a lot we have already achieved, and much more that we’ll accomplish in the future,” the Microsoft Chairman said.
At the same ceremony, President commended the ICTA for removing the language barriers in computer applications.
Being impressed with the first copy of the new local language interface software to him the President said that it was the intention of the Government to further enable the rural people to use the computer particularly in local languages.
The President also emphasised the importance of increasing indigenous contents available through the computer.
Through the e-Sri Lanka programme the Government intends to ensure that the benefits of ICT accrue to every citizen of this country. The President pointed out the importance of enabling every citizen to have access to the benefits of ICT without language being a hindrance.
The President also commended Microsoft for the steps taken by it for making the local language software freely available to all Sri Lankans.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chief of Defence Staff, Commanders assume duties

Sri Lanka marks a historic day today (July 15) in the sphere of the defence sector with three key personalities in the Sri Lanka Armed Forces, Chief of Defence Staff, General Sarath Fonseka, Army Commander Lt. General Jagath Jayasuriya and Navy Commander Vice Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe assuming duties after they were appointed to these posts by President Mahinda Rajapaksa with effect from today.

General Sarath Fonseka who led the Sri Lanka Army to liberate the country fully from the clutches of the LTTE terrorists, killing its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran including all its top rung leaders, yesterday relinquished his duties as the Army Commander after handing his sword to his successor Major General Jagath Jayasuriya.

The Sri Lanka Army accorded him a guard of honour at the Army Headquarters.

General Sarath Fonseka is due to assume duties today as the Chief of Defence Staff succeeding Air Chief Marshal Donald Perera at the Joint Operations Headquarters at 11.17 a.m.

The outgoing Chief of Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Donald Perera will also be present to relinquish his duties.

General Fonseka is the first person to take over this powerful position of Chief of Defence Staff which is akin to the post of a Deputy Defence Secretary, with wide range of powers vested in this position after the Chief of Defence Staff Act was passed in the Parliament.

The powerful institution of the Chief of Defence Staff will comprise a staff of 300, including six Majors General of the Sri Lanka Army, and a Rear Admiral from the Sri Lanka Navy and an Air Vice Marshal from the Sri Lanka Air Force.

He will also be the Chairman of the Committee of the Chief of Defence Staff which is comprising the Army Commander, Navy Commander and the Air Force Commander. The CDS has been entrusted with the powers to coordinate matters relating to prepare operational plans, military intelligence and various other functions of the Armed Forces.

Meanwhile, newly appointed Army Commander Lt. General Jagath Jayasuriya and Navy Commander Vice Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe will also assume duties in their respective position this morning.

Lt. General Jagath Jayasuriya, an illustrious Army officer from the Armoured Corps will be the 19 th Commander in the Army which was formed in 1949. He had served more than 30 years in the Sri Lanka Army holding key posts. He was the Security Forces Commander Vanni at the time he was promoted to the rank of Lt. General and appointed as the 19th Army Commander by the President.

Vice Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, a professional Navy officer with a service of 35 years, will take over the command of the Sri Lanka Navy succeeding Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda during his tenure, ten LTTE floating warehouses were destroyed bringing fame to the country at international fora.

He was the second in command of the Navy and was about to retire from the Navy with the completion of 55 years at the time President elevated him to the high command of the Navy with an extension of one year service.

He also held key appointments in the Navy including the Eastern Area and Northern Area Commander of the Navy making his innovative contribution to the Navy including that of the introduction of fastest loading and unloading process of a ship which enabled to load and unload 3,000 troops plus cargo within 15 minutes.

Courtesy : Daily News

President Rajapaksa gave practical scope and depth to non-alignment- Minister Bogollagama

Speaking at the NAM Ministerial Meeting at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on 13 July Foreign Minister Bogollagama praised Sri Lanka's heroic security forces for defeating the world's deadliest terrorist group and rescuing civilians and securing fully the north and the east of Sri Lanka. "This achievement was possible because of the single-minded commitment, vision and perseverance of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has reunified Sri Lanka under one flag, further strengthening its territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty, as well as the liberties of people in the north and the east."

He also paid glowing tribute to the late Prime Minister, Madam Sirimavo Bandaranayake, stating that she was instrumental in entrenching the principle of non-alignment in Sri Lanka's Foreign Policy. "This policy today", the Foreign Minister added, "continues to be upheld by President Mahinda Rajapaksa who has given it practical scope and depth in Sri Lanka's engagement with the outside world."

In his speech at the interactive debate on "solidarity for peace and development", the Minister identified terrorism as one of the major challenges to peace and stability of states, and urged the international community to shed double standards in fighting terrorism. Stressing that global challenges required collective responses, Bogollagama called upon the Non-Alignment Movement to show leadership in advancing such collaborative efforts.

The two-day Ministerial Meeting which began 13 July, preceding the 15th NAM Summit scheduled for the 15th and 16th July 2009, was addressing priority issues such as financial and economic crisis, threats to international peace and security, reforming of the United Nations and the international financial architecture as well as poverty alleviation.

On the sidelines of the Ministerial Meeting today, Minister Bogollagama met his counterparts from South Africa and Iran. Ministers of State of Pakistan and Colombia also paid bilateral calls on the Foreign Minister.

Courtesy : Ministry of Foreign Affairs

SLAF uncovers hand grenades, claymore mine in search operation - Trincomalee

A special operation group of the Sri Lankan Air Force uncovered 03 hand grenades and a 5kg weighing claymore mine during a search and clearing operation conducted in general area Kantale, Trincomalee yesterday (July 13).

Further search operations are continuing in the area.

General Fonseka bids farewell to take up CDS appointment

Commander of the Army General Sarath Fonseka who added an indelible chapter to the military history in Sri Lanka after crushing LTTE terrorism handed over the office of the Commander to his successor, Major General Jagath Jayasuriya this morning (14) in accordance with military traditions.

General Sarath Fonseka is to take reins as new Chief of Defence Staff tomorrow (15) at the Joint Operations Headquarters (JOH) after a formal military ceremony. Tuesday (14) morning's ceremony at Army Headquarters was meant to bid farewell to the outgoing Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka.

General Sarath Fonseka on arrival at the Army Headquarters premises was accorded a Guard of Honour by soldiers of his own Sinha Regiment. He afterwards inspected the parade in the company of the parade commander.

Later on, during a tea party thrown by the Army Headquarters, the outgoing Commander walked to some of his senior officers and Other Ranks to share a couple of thoughts with them on the eve of his departure from the Army.

His address to the officers afterwards was largely centered on military achievements and numerous sacrifices made by members of the Army for the sake of the country. The sacrifices done in the recent victories remain unmatched. He also thanked all the parties who helped the Army to achieve this feat.

After the address, General Fonseka left the Army Headquarters premises amidst good-bye cheers from his soldiers who gathered on both sides of the road leading to the Main Gate to bid farewell to this great warrior and military leader who led his men to put Sri Lanka Army among leading armies in the world map.

Courtesy: Army Media