Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte says a Resident Mission will be opened in Colombo in 2020.
He gave the assurence during a meeting with Sri Lanka’s new Ambassador to the Philippines Shobini Gunasekera.
Gunasekera presented her credentials to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte at Malacañan Palace in Manila accrediting her as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Sri Lanka to the Philippines.
Ambassador Gunasekera first attended a wreath laying ceremony at the Monument in Rizal Park in honor of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal which was followed by a Guard of Honour in Malacañan Palace.
Upon presentation of credentials, Ambassador Gunasekera had a tete-a-tete with President Duterte. She conveyed best wishes and sincere greetings of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to President Duterte, Government and the people of the Philippines. She identified the Philippines as an emerging market with great potential for Sri Lanka particularly in trade, investment and tourism and noted the increasing interest of the private sectors of the two countries to explore accruing opportunities for business. In this respect, the extension of the residence visa scheme of nationals of both countries was also discussed. Other areas of mutually beneficial cooperation identified were in defence and security, labour, combatting illegal drugs, higher education and agriculture.
Recalling the 58 years of long standing friendly relations between the two countries, Ambassador Gunasekera also reiterated the importance of opening the Philippine Embassy in Sri Lanka in the year 2020 and invited President Duterte to undertake a State Visit to Sri Lanka, in conjunction with the opening of the Embassy.
President Duterte warmly welcomed Ambassador Gunasekera and acknowledged the potential available between Sri Lanka and the Philippines for broadening cooperation and strengthening relations and wished her a productive stay in the country and assured of the opening of the Philippine Resident Mission in Colombo in 2020.
Present during the credential ceremony and tete-a-tete from the Philippine side were Secretary (Minister) of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines Teodoro Locsin Jr, Chief of Presidential Protocol and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs Robert E.A. Borje, Executive Director of Asian and Pacific Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs Josel F. Ignacio, Principal Assistant of Asian and Pacific Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs Jordan Ysabel G. Morales.
Sri Lanka side was represented by Spouse of the Ambassador and Minister of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in China Alexi Gunasekera, Minister of the Embassy Thanuja Dissanayake, Attaché of the Embassy Sandeepani Godage and Consular Officer Sanjeewanie Sooriyaarachchi of the Embassy.
Shobini Gunasekera joined Sri Lanka Foreign Service in 1998 and immediately prior to her appointment to Manila, she served both as Director General Legal and Director General UN in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prior to that she also held the posts of Director General Economic Affairs and Director General European Union, Commonwealth and Multilateral Treaties.
In her overseas postings, she last served as the Minister (Deputy Chief of Mission) of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Paris from 2014 to 2017 and held positions in Brussels and Beijing previously.
Ambassador Gunasekera has a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from the University of Colombo and was admitted to the Bar as an Attorney-at-Law in 1994. She is a past pupil of Musaeus College, Colombo.