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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2674

Conference of Heads Sri Lankan Mission in the Middle East held in Dubai

Colombo, 16 January, ( The first ever two day regional meeting of Sri Lankan Ambassadors in the Middle East was held in Dubai on 14 - 15 January, under the chairmanship of Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama. Eleven Sri Lankan Envoys participated at the meeting along with several government and private sector agencies having a broad range of interests in the region.

The objective of the meeting was to prepare an Action Plan which would be implemented by Sri Lanka Missions in 2009 in a range of areas, all of which have a great bearing on many aspects of the country’s economy.

In his opening address Foreign Minister Bogollagama said that Sri Lankan Heads of Mission had to play a pro active and consistent role in promoting the country’s national and strategic interests. The government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, he said, has focused on improving and re-invigorating ties with the countries of the Middle East. In this context, he recalled his just concluded official visit to the State of Qatar during which His Royal Highness the Emir had accepted a long standing invitation to pay a state visit to Sri Lanka in May this year.

There is also an important need, the Minister stressed, for Sri Lankan Missions to project the recent and remarkable successes of the armed forces in the North of the country in the effort to eliminate terrorism. Equally important was the necessity to project on a consistent basis the humanitarian measures that were being taken by the government to provide relief to the civilians affected by the conflict. The government, Foreign Minister Bogollagama said, pursued a zero tolerance policy on civilian casualties, as part of its concern for the Tamil people. These steps need to be consistently brought to the notice of the concerned authorities in the countries where the Ambassadors were stationed. In this exercise, the services of the Sri Lankan expatriate community, a significant number of whom had lived and worked in these countries for lengthy periods of time could also be harnessed.

The Foreign Minister emphasizing the role played by the media urged the envoys to cultivate the fourth estate on a continuous basis so as to project Sri Lanka’s message to the widest possible spectrum.

2009, the Foreign Minister said would herald a change in how the Foreign Ministry expected Sri Lankan Missions abroad to operate. As part of this initiative, Missions would be expected to draw up an Action Plan along with line agencies on a quarterly and result oriented basis.

Underscoring the need for Missions to function in a people friendly manner, the Foreign Minister expressed confidence that Ambassadors would pay utmost attention to the welfare of Sri Lankan migrant workers, a significant proportion of whom worked in the Middle East.

Several Heads of Line Agencies commended the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in convening the regional meeting of Sri Lankan Ambassadors in the Middle East, stating that it had enabled them to interact with the envoys on an individual and collective basis, all of which had helped in overcoming hurdles that stood in the way of a co-ordinated and cohesive approach in promoting Sri Lanka’s national interests abroad.

Deputy Minister of Tourism, Faiszer Musthapha and Secretary, Foreign Affairs, Dr Palitha Kohona also spoke at the event which was attended by the Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotion & Welfare, Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, Department of Commerce, Department of Ayurveda, Ministry of Indigenous Medicine, National Gem & Jewellery Authority, Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, Ministry of Tourism, Tourism Promotion Bureau, Sri Lanka Tea Board, Bank of Ceylon, Peoples Bank, Federation of Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Chamber of Construction Industry of Sri Lanka.

- Asian Tribune -

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