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PRESIDENT KUMARATUNGA MEETS DIPLOMATS

( Created date: 31-Dec-2004 )

PresidentKumaratunga today met all Colombo based Diplomatsand members of the International Agencies basedin the country. At the meeting held this morningat the Presidential Secretariat the Presidentbriefed the audience about the crises facedby Sri Lanka in the aftermath of Sunday's disaster.She thanked the members of the Diplomatic Corpsfor their presence and their concern. The Presidentalso conveyed Sri Lanka's sympathies to thevictims in other nations which suffered similardevastation. She said several World Leadershad telephoned her and that the UN has a specialteam to make an assessment of the damage toinfrastructure.

The President said Sunday'stidal waves and the resulting catastrophe wasa new and unexpected experience for Sri Lanka.A third of our coastline, from the North tothe South and parts of the West was lashed bythe killer waves leaving over 24,000 dead. Wewere not prepared to face such a calamity shesaid, in the first 48 hours coordination waspoor she conceded, however it is now functioningsmoothly with in organized manner.

The President told them aboutthe special task force which operates from theOffice of the President. Chaired by the Secretaryto the President it comprises the senior officialsfrom relevant Ministries. The UN Agencies nowin Sri Lanka are also headquartered at the Officeof the President. She said a National ReconstructionFund has been put in place already to rebuilddamaged infrastructure.

The President explained immediateand long term needs of the country and saidSri Lanka would welcome the assistance of allfriendly nations. She said she has sought theassistance the local business community as well.Outlining the priorities she said the damagedroad network would be the first followed bytelecom, hospitals, schools, housing.

All political parties in Parliamenthave expressed their willingness to cooperatein this national rebuilding effort with theexception of the TNA which is still to respondto the call she said.

The President made specialreference to the urgent need for preparednessand to put in place a professional disastermanagement scheme. She told the diplomats presentthat she has already spoken with the Frenchand US governments regarding an 'early warningsystem' in the South Asian region which wouldhelp minimize the human cost of in the eventof future natural
disasters.

The President told the diplomaticcommunity contrary to some news reports in certainforeign media agencies and local websites foodstocks, medicine and doctors have been sentto the North East. The Rehabilitation Ministryunder her purview works in tandem with UN Agenciesand other International Aid Agencies. She saidthe LTTE's propaganda mechanism does disseminatefalse reports often.

The envoys representing India,Bangladesh, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands,Japan, Malaysia, Switzerland, the UK, the USA,Norway, Italy, and the heads of the UNDP, WorldBank, ICRC, ADB, IMF expressed their views.

Some of them expressed theirgratitude to the people of Sri Lanka who hadrescued many of their nationals who were holidayinghere. Some of them were given refuge and evenmoney which they had lost in the tidal wavedisaster. They pledged their fullest co-operationto Sri Lanka's efforts to rebuild the livesof its people and its infrastructure.

Associated with the Presidentwere, Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar,the Secretary to the President W J S Karunaratne.SG of the Peace Secretariat Jayantha Dhanapalaand the Service Commanders and the Police Chief.



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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