Sri Lanka is paying greater attention to its relations with East and Southern Africa, External Affairs Minister Professor G.L Peiris said.
He said this when he met President James Alix Michel of the Seychelles today. The minister is currently on an official visit to the Seychelles.
The External Affairs Ministry said that President Michel had spoken on the shared priorities and objectives of both countries saying there is immense scope for collaboration between Sri Lanka and the Seychelles.
President Michel, who appreciated Sri Lanka’s active role within the Indian Ocean Regional Association for Co-operation (IORAC), welcomed Sri Lanka’s plans to join the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC). These structures, he observed, would serve to provide an effective framework for more intensive co-operation between the two countries with regard to such matters as the control of piracy and the exploitation of ocean resources without environmental damage.
President Michel laid particular stress on airline connectivity as an aid to both tourism and trade. An agreement is to be signed between the two countries in this regard next month. Prof. Peiris said that this would be of interest to Sri Lanka, especially because of the access it provides to East and Southern Africa at a time when the country is paying greater attention to its relations with this region.
On the subject of tourism, President Michel commented on the scope for co-operation between Sri Lanka and the Seychelles with regard to smaller cruise ships sailing among Islands in the Indian Ocean– an activity for which there is today substantial demand. Health tourism and eco-tourism were also identified as priority areas.
President Michel welcomed with enthusiasm the initiatives, already in progress, in respect of action in the education and energy sectors. He said that the Seychelles would like to facilitate investment from Sri Lanka into the hospital and hydro-power areas. Sri Lankan inputs into the Marine Training Institute of the Seychelles would be of great value, he said. He expressed satisfaction regarding current plans for co-operation in the banking sector.