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President Sirisena begins state visit to Malaysia
President Maithripala Sirisena arrived in Kuala Lumpur on 15 December, commencing a three-day visit to Malaysia. Malaysia’s Minister of Human Resources, Dato Sri Richard Riot Anak Jaem, as well as other senior officials, welcomed President Sirisena upon arrival.
President Sirisena is expected to sign several Memorandums of Understanding relating to tourism, training, research, and public administration with the government of Malaysia.
Navy launches Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel in India
The second Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel of the Sri Lankan Navy, built by Goa Shipyards Ltd, was launched on 15 December, in Goa. The vessel can accommodate up to 18 officers and 100 sailors, and features a helipad. The ship has a range of 4,500 nautical miles to carry out surveillance operations.
The vessel was launched by the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India, Chitranganee Wagiswara, with dignitaries representing both countries attending the ceremony.
India allows fishermen to attend consecration ceremony in Katchatheevu
The government of India has approved the participation of 100 fishermen from Tamil Nadu at the consecration ceremony of St Antony’s Church in Katchatheevu, on 23 December. Following the approval, the government of Tamil Nadu announced that it would make adequate arrangements for the pilgrims.
The ceremony, initially scheduled for 7 December, was postponed by the government of Sri Lanka, due to the passing away of the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J. Jayalalithaa.
EU renegotiates Ukraine treaty
EU leaders have assured the Netherlands that the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement will not ensure EU membership for the Ukraine, nor grant its citizens residence and work rights in Europe. The agreement, which has already been signed by the 27 other EU member states, was voted down by Dutch voters, who feared that it would put the Ukraine on a fast-track to EU membership.
The agreement aims to create a free trade area and expand cooperation on foreign policy and fighting crime.
Nigerian Minister appointed as Deputy UN Chief
The incoming UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has appointed Nigeria's Environment Minister, Amina Mohammed, as his deputy secretary-general. The appointment is part of Mr Guterres’ commitment to establish gender parity among senior UN leadership. Women currently account for less than one in four UN leadership positions.
Mr Guterres also appointed two other women to leadership positions; Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil, and Kyung-wha Kang of South Korea.
China holds naval live-fire drills
China has held its first live-fire drills using its first and only aircraft carrier in the northeastern Bohai Sea. Ten vessels and 10 aircraft engaged in air-to-air, air-to-sea and sea-to-air combat drills. China's exercises aimed to test equipment and troop training levels.
The group also carried out reconnaissance exercises, early warning systems tests, aerial interception, and missile defence.