Colombo Port is the first in South Asia to partner in the War on Terrorism through the “MegaPorts Initiative”

Minister discusses port and airport security cooperation and technology with key US officials

US grant financing to assist Sri Lanka in port and aviation development

Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Ports & Aviation exchanging the MoU with US Energy Secretary Hon. Spencer Abraham
at the signing ceremony. Also in the picture (extreme L) are Mr. Ariyaratne Hewage, Secretary to the Ministry of Ports & Aviation and
Chairman Airport & Aviation (Sri Lanka) Ltd, Mr. M.K.A.M. Hizbullah.

Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Ports and Aviation of Sri Lanka concluded a four -day visit to the US enhancing the growing US - Sri Lanka partnership in port and aviation security.

The visit highlight was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concerning Cooperation to Prevent the Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear and Other Radioactive Material on July 21, 2004 at the Department of Energy, Washington DC, between the US Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham and the Minister of Ports and Aviation Mangala Smaraweera.

The Hon. Minister’s discussions with senior officials of the US Department of Energy, US Department of Homeland Security, US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) were part of the ongoing partnership with the US on national security and trade facilitation matters. Officials accompanying the Minister also met with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on flight and airport safety matters. These meetings specifically helped consolidate objectives envisaged for Sri Lanka in the areas pertaining to airport development and civil aviation projects, sea port development and port security initiatives.

Signing of MoU under the “MegaPorts Initiative” Enhances Colombo Port Security

Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Ports and Aviation of Sri Lanka and Hon. Abraham Spencer, United States Energy Secretary signed the MOU concerning Cooperation to Prevent the Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear and Other Radioactive Material on behalf of their respective Governments. Sri Lanka will be the first country in South Asia to utilize the type of new radiation detection system to be installed under the “MegaPorts Initiative.” US –Sri Lanka cooperation under this MoU will enhance security at the Colombo Port which is one of South Asia's largest seaports, handling more than 19 million containers annually. Thousands of commercial ships traveling between Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas and the Middle East pass through Colombo Port’s container facilities.

The MegaPorts Initiative supports and complements the Container Security Initiative (CSI) of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection under the US Department of Homeland Security and, Sri Lanka is a partner of the US on the CSI as well. The MegaPorts Initiative, is making technical resources available to complement the Customs Bureau’s Container Security Initiative at international ports.

Following the signing, the Hon. Samaraweera said, “we have been able to sign this MOU within a remarkably short period of time, which amply demonstrates Sri Lanka’s commitment to cooperate with the international community in the war against terrorism and to prevent illicit arms and material trafficking. I trust that Sri Lanka is the first country in South Asia, if not in Asia, to participate in the MegaPorts Initiative. Sri Lanka appreciates this opportunity to have a close partnership with the US in this important operation in the fight against terrorism and protect the Port of Colombo.”

Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham said, “the illicit trafficking of material and components for nuclear weapons through the global maritime network is a serious threat that must be addressed. Installing sophisticated radiation detection devices in Sri Lanka, and at other key shipping centers around the world, is a major step forward in preventing the trafficking of dangerous nuclear and radiological materials. This is a very important initiative that Sri Lanka was able to sign and Sri Lanka’s ready cooperation in this regard will set an example to other nations.”

Prior to the signing of the MoU, the Minister met with Deputy Secretary of Energy Kyle McSlarrow who expressed his appreciation for the Minister’s leadership in this initiative on the basis of shared objectives with regard to the war on terrorism and ensuring security of the global trading system.

A Department of Energy team will be visiting Sri Lanka on June 23rd, 2004 on a port familiarization visit and to meet with senior officials of the Colombo Port and the Sri Lanka Navy on the implementation of the MegaPorts Initiative.

International Summit on Aviation Safety and Security

Minister Samaraweera and his delegation comprising, Mr. A. Hewage Secretary, Ministry of Ports and Aviation, Mr. M.K.A.M. Hizbullah, Chairman, Airport and Aviation (Sri Lanka) Ltd and Mr. H.M.C. Nimalasiri, Director-General, Civil Aviation Authority attended the International Summit on Aviation Safety and Security in Washington DC and discussed ways and means of increasing cooperation on international aviation safety and security and in ensuring continuing compliance with ICAO Standards in those areas. The Sri Lanka delegation met with counterparts of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) during the Summit to discuss issues related to ICAO safety and security compliance and aviation security programs. The Ministerial level discussions with participating countries centered on economic benefits of tourism in the context of safe and secure air transport, regional challenges in aviation safety and security and the essential elements of civil aviation safety and security from a policy perspective.

Minister Conducts Technical Discussions at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Port and Airport Security

Hon. Mangala Samaraweera meets Rear Admiral (Ret.) David M. Stone, Actg. Administrator of US Transportation Security Administration

Minister Samaraweera also conducted technical discussions at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Following the 9/11 attacks, the TSA was established in November, 2001 by President George W. Bush under the Department of Homeland Security in order to protect the US ground, air and ports transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce. Acting Administrator of TSA Rear Admiral (Ret) David M. Stone welcomed the delegation and gave an overview of the tasks and responsibilities of the organization. The main objective of the TSA’s efforts was to strike a balance between the flow of trade and security. Admiral Stone commented on the excellent relations existing between the US Customs and the Sri Lankan counterparts and the burgeoning relationship with the US Coast Guard. Mentioning that he was extremely happy to assist Sri Lanka to ensure security and protection to its airports and harbours, Admiral Stone said, “we look for leadership, partnership and friendship with Sri lanka.”

Minister Samaraweera discussed air cargo security screening aspects of airport security in the light of Sri Lankan carriers transporting both passengers and cargo and, given Sri Lanka’s past experiences, to seek ways to raise the bar on airport security without affecting the country’s tourism industry. In response, Rear Admiral (Ret) Stone briefed the Minister on recent aviation security measures adopted by the US to mitigate terrorist threats without affecting passenger travel.

Hon. Mangala Samaraweera (C) with Actg. Administrator Devid M. Stone (R), Ambassador Devinda R. Subasinghe (extreme L), Ports and Aviation Secretary Mr. A. Hewage (extreme R) and Chairman Airport & Aviation (Sri Lanka) Ltd, Mr. M.K.A.M. Hizbullah (L)

The Container Security Division of the Customs and Border Protection agency briefed the delegation on the implementation of the Container Security Initiative (CSI) which is already operational in 19 of the world’s major sea ports in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. He stated that in the immediate future, action would be initiated to install Non Intrusive Inspection (NII) equipment at the Colombo Harbour. The Department of State conducted a technical briefing on airport security matters and available technologies.

Minister Discusses Trade and Development Agency Financing

At the meeting with Ms. Thelma J. Askey, Director of the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) the Minister reviewed the ongoing USTDA grant assistance program in Sri Lanka and identified possible areas of future cooperation.

Director Askey informed that the USTDA has been conducting useful on-going programmes in Sri Lanka, including a Need Assessment Study for the Implementation of Container Security Initiative, Technical Assistance for a Coal Fired Power Project, and facilitating a Study Tour by Aviation Officials from Sri Lanka, among others. Minister Samaraweera highlighted that in the area of civil aviation, the Government wishes to seek USTDA assistance to upgrade the existing airports namely, the Ratmalana, Weerawila and Koggala airports, to enhance airport security, to develop private helicopter services for tourism, assistance to evaluate second runway project proposals, including development of the Hambantota Harbour.

Director Askey pointing out that airport development and security is very much a part of the USTDA mission objectives, expressed a willingness to consider Sri Lanka Government’s expressed areas of development favourably. She also informed that a Definition Mission to identify financing opportunities related to civil aviation for USTDA will be visiting Sri Lanka from 9th August 2004. Representatives of Airline Capital Associates Inc., the consultancy company selected for the purpose, also were present at the discussions.

It was agreed that USTDA would fund a study tour for a Sri Lankan delegation from the civil aviation sector to study airport security and air navigation systems.

Discussions with Senior Executives of Lockheed -Martin, Boeing & Bechtel-Alterra Partners

USTDA had also arranged for representatives of leading US civil aviation and aviation security companies, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Bechtel-Alterra Partners to brief the Hon. Minister on the capabilities of the US companies, latest technology available in the area of air port security, air traffic control, navigation systems and public –private partnerships.

Briefing at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

In his capacity as the Minister of Information and Media, Minister Samaraweera met with the FCC for a briefing on the FCC’s regulatory framework governing communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. A special focus of the briefing was on the regulatory policy pertaining to the issuance of licenses, allocation of frequencies for broadcast media, content regulation and, the regulatory policy in place for ownership thresholds for broadcasters. In the discussions that followed the briefing, the Minister informed that Sri Lanka had worked with the FCC previously to formulate the country’s communications regulatory mechanism, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission. The Minister also discussed ways of availing of FCC expertise and experience in upgrading and revising the existing regulatory policy framework for broadcast media in Sri Lanka, as part of future bilateral collaboration with the FCC.

Visit to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)

At a meeting with the Senior Vice President for International Relations at the NAB, a full service trade association representing the interests of free, over-the-air radio and television broadcasters, the Minister had discussions on the mission and mandate of the NAB and explored the possibility of encouraging Sri Lanka broadcasting media to collaborate with the NAB on its research capabilities in the area of commercial and community broadcasting.

Discussions at the World Bank

At the invitation of the World Bank, Minister Samaraweera met with Mr. Praful Patel, Vice President, South Asia Region to discuss potential World Bank support for port and aviation development.

Visit to the Washington Buddhist Vihara

The Minister visited the Washington Buddhist Vihara and received blessings from the Ven. Maharagama Dhammasiri Thero, Chief Priest of the Washington Buddhist Vihara. Minister Samarawera also visited the International Buddhist Center in Wheaton and received blessings from the Ven. Katugastota Uparathana Maha Thero, Chief incumbent of the Wheaton Vihara.

The Minister’s official delegation comprised Mr. A. Hewage Secretary, Ministry of Ports and Aviation, Mr. M.K.A.M. Hizbullah, Chairman, Airport and Aviation (Sri Lanka) Ltd and Mr. H.M.C. Nimalasiri, Director-General, Civil Aviation Authority.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

23 July 2004


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