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Sri Lanka at 76 - Chair of IORA

 
Pictured lighting the lamp (r)  Ajay Sooklal, The Diplomatic Society with Suminda Mendis (l), Acting High Commissioner of Sri Lanka
 

6 February 2024

The High Commission of Sri Lanka held a gathering at the Chancery in Pretoria to celebrate the 76th Anniversary of Independence. Sri Lankan nationals and friends of Sri Lanka were welcomed by Acting High Commissioner Suminda Mendis. The program included blessings from the Buddhist, Hindu, Islam and Christian faiths attesting to the tolerance of the diverse beliefs in this tear-drop island nation, often referred to as the pearl of the Indian Ocean. This was followed by the traditional lighting of oil lamps.

President Ranil Wickramasinghe’s message was read out in which he invited all Sri Lankans, at home and abroad, to contribute to rebuilding the country. Wickremesinghe said the government is steering the economy toward stability despite numerous challenges. He added that Sri Lanka is overcoming challenges progressively, owing to the steadfast support of citizens, who endured hardships in keeping with a comprehensive, long-term national rebuilding program. He also urged the people to persist on the current path of economic recovery and reinstate prosperity.

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Sri Lanka is the current Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) for the period 2023-25. Having taken over from Bangladesh, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said that Sri Lanka will work to boost free trade among member nations of IORA.

Established in 1999, IORA has 23 members and 11 dialogue partners. It works to strengthen regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean region. The region is home to about 2.7 billion people - more than a third of the world’s population, and is considered vital for global trade and energy resources. Colombo will also be preparing to host the Leaders’ Summit during its Chairship which, according to reported amendments, will be extended to a three year term.


Guests at the event enjoyed tasty, authentic Sri Lanka cuisine

by Anisha Pemjee - TDS


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