Thailand, Lanka to enhance maritime security

Thailand and Sri Lanka held bilateral talks today when the Prime Minister of Thailand Yingluck Shinawatra met President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat.

The visiting Thai Premier also addressed the Parliament at a special session, the President’s office said.

The two leaders agreed to enhance cooperation in defense and maritime security. President Rajapaksa said sharing experiences and expertise will contribute to eradicating terrorism and other security threats in the region.

He made these remarks while pointing out that despite the war’s end in 2009, supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are continuing their fight to divide Sri Lanka from foreign shores. “We must cooperate more closely in security-related information and intelligence sharing,” President Rajapaksa said.

Prime Minister Shinawatra commended the Sri Lankan government’s efforts in fighting terrorism under the leadership of President Rajapaksa.

“Thailand extends our support to make Sri Lanka a peaceful and prosperous nation,” the Prime Minister told the President. The President also expressed gratitude to Thailand for its “firm support” to Sri Lanka at the 19th and 22nd U.N. Human Rights Council meetings, adding that Sri Lanka “should be entitled to have time and space to proceed with a delicate process of national reconciliation.”

The two leaders also spoke about trade relations, acknowledging that there was room for improvement. President Rajapaksa invited the Thai government to invest in Sri Lankan government debentures and expressed the willingness to work more closely with Thailand in promoting more business opportunities in the small and medium industrial sector. Following the bilateral discussions, the two countries signed several MoUs in the areas of immigration, tourism, scientific and technical cooperation, and commerce and banking.

The Prime Minister’s visit to the island is a part of the activities planned to mark the 260th anniversary of the establishment of the Siam Maha Nikaya in Sri Lanka. The Thai delegation comprised of several high-level government officials including Mr. Surapong Tovichakchaikul who serves as both the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.  (Colombo Gazette)