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mahinda rajapaksa 400COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's President on Wednesday welcomed the first communications satellite launch in partnership with a Chinese state-owned company, to take television to rural areas of the island.


President Mahinda Rajapakse said the private venture, in which his youngest son Rohitha was a promoter, had given the island a "new age in its development and industrial progress".


Rajapakse said the geo-stationary Supreme Sat I will provide DTH (direct to home) television in rural areas of Sri Lanka that cannot be reached by normal broadcasts.


"This is a major beginning for Sri Lanka to benefit from space technology in communications," the president said.


The local partner of the joint venture, Supreme Sat, said the satellite was positioned in orbit on Tuesday evening after launching from the Xi Chang Space Center in China.


Financial details of the partnership were not immediately known, but the local company said they envisaged a total investment of $320 million within five years.


China is Sri Lanka's main investor as well as lender, undertaking all key infrastructure projects such as sea ports, airports and highways.


Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012

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