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Champion baguette maker key attraction at glittering Paris reception

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75th anniversary of France Sri Lanka diplomatic relations

Champion baguette chef of Sri Lankan descent, Tharshan Selvarajah, who won the “le Grand prix de la Baguette de la Ville de Paris” this year and supplies the Elysee Palace, the French president’s residence with the classic long loaf French bread was a key attraction when the Sri Lanka Embassy in Paris celebrated the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and France in Paris on October 31.

A news release from the Paris mission said “a highlight and a unique attraction at the reception was the presentation of signature baguette and a variety of freshly baked French bread” by Selvarajah.

The anniversary was marked with a vibrant reception hosted for French dignitaries and friends of Sri Lanka, as well as the diplomatic corps. It was the highlight of a series of events organized by the Embassy to mark the historic milestone, showcasing the many facets of Sri Lanka, including its breathtaking beauty as a top tourist destination in the world, as well as the numerous talents of the French – Sri Lankan community.

The Ambassador of Sri Lanka to France and Permanent Delegate of Sri Lanka to UNESCO Manisha Gunasekera, in her address, extended a warm welcome to all the guests, and highlighted the longstanding and enduring relations and friendship between Sri Lanka and France. She emphasized the significance of the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations, and highlighted the elevation of bilateral relations in the anniversary year with the exchange of high-level visits, which has infused new vitality and dynamism to the partnership.

She referred in this regard to the visit of the President of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe to France in June, and of the French President Emmanuel Macron to Sri Lanka in July this year, the latter being a historic first ever visit by a French President to Sri Lanka.

The Ambassador welcomed the issuance of a 75th anniversary commemorative stamp by Sri Lanka Post and La Post France on the 75th anniversary date of October 27, 2023, with particular reference to the commemorative first day cover and stamp issued by the Department of Posts in Sri Lanka.

She also welcomed the convening of inaugural bilateral political consultations between the Sri Lankan and French Foreign Ministries in Colombo in October, as well as the bilateral agreements in process to be inked during the course of the anniversary year.

The Chief Guest at the reception, the Ambassador for the Indo-Pacific of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Marc Abensour, in his speech highlighted the further consolidation of relations between the two countries in wide-ranging spheres of shared interest during the anniversary year.

He described the historic visit of President Macron to Sri Lanka as being pivotal to the elevation of bilateral ties, and referred to further high-level visits and signing of MOUs/agreements planned for 2024. The Ambassador for the Indo-Pacific welcomed the strong synergies existing between France and Sri Lanka in cooperation in the Indian Ocean, with particular reference to new mutually beneficial programmes in maritime safety and security in process which would take the partnership to the next level.

The Guest of Honour, the President of the France Sri Lanka Friendship Group in the French National Assembly Julien Dive, in proposing a toast, reiterated the importance of the Franco-Sri Lanka relationship and referred to key milestones being celebrated in the 75th anniversary. The French legislator encouraged closer cooperation and friendship between the French National Assembly and the Senate and the Sri Lankan Parliament, including between the respective parliamentary friendship groups.

He also underscored the expanding potential for stronger economic cooperation between the two countries that would lead to further tangible benefits in the foreseeable future. Members of the France Sri Lanka Friendship Groups in the French Senate and the National Assembly attended the reception.

The reception commenced with a beautiful rendition of the French and Sri Lankan national anthems sung by a choir comprising talented children of Sri Lankan heritage in France. In celebration of Franco-Sri Lanka cultural and artistic bonds, the reception showcased an art exhibition comprising the work of three gifted and acclaimed French Sri Lankan artists, Jayantha Premachandra, Mahinda Herath and Rapti which captivated the viewers.

The title of the exhibition “Tisser des liens” symbolized the rich cultural and aesthetic ties binding the two nations and peoples together, the embassy release said. The reception showcased authentic Sri Lankan food and beverages which were welcomed by the guests.

The reception served as a resounding affirmation of the deep-rooted and mutually reinforcing friendship between Sri Lanka and France. Approximately 250 French and international dignitaries and guests, including Ambassadors/members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the French Government, previous French Ambassadors to Sri Lanka, professionals, media, academics, artists, business leaders, investors, and travel industry partners gathered to commemorate this special occasion, the release said.

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