Australia and Sri Lanka discuss role by overseas Sri Lankans

Australia and Sri Lanka today discussed the role by overseas Sri Lankans in the development of Sri Lanka, the Foreign Ministry said today.

Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake had talks with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia Julie Bishop, at the Foreign Ministry in Colombo today.

“The people to people links are the bedrock of the bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Australia. The presence of over 150,000 Australians of Sri Lankan origin has provided a human bridge between the two countries,” Karunanayake said in a statement after the talks.

He said Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and he had productive discussions on ways and means of further enhancing the bilateral cooperation in areas of mutual interest, including economic partnership, development cooperation, combating people smuggling, education and skill development, tourism, reconciliation and the role by overseas Sri Lankans in the development of Sri Lanka.

“We also discussed on regional security challenges including maritime security as well as cooperation in the multilateral fora,” he said.

The Minister said that Sri Lanka’s economic ties with Australia have now transformed itself into a dynamic partnership due to growing trade, investment, and new business interests.

The Minister extended an invitation to Australian investors to take full advantage of Sri Lanka transforming itself into an important and viable logistical hub in the East-West maritime arc.

“I expressed my deep appreciation for Australian development assistance received for several decades including under the Colombo Plan. Sri Lanka is also thankful for the opportunities awarded for post graduate studies to Sri Lankan public officials through Australia Awards which is coming under the purview of Hon. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. We also discussed on enhancing cooperation in Technical and Vocational Education and Training to empower younger Sri Lankans,” Karunanayake said.

Karunanayake and Julie Bishop also discussed the promotion of tourism between the two countries. Karunanayake said he welcomed Australia’s assistance in the planning and development of the Sri Lanka tourism industry.

“I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for her keen interest in reaching out to Sri Lankan Australians and encouraging them to work with the Government of Sri Lanka towards common objectives. Sri Lanka continues to encourage overseas Sri Lankans to contribute to Sri Lanka’s economic development. Strengthening of the Sri Lankan economy and inclusive growth are important factors for ensuring long-term peace, stability, and non-recurrence of conflict,” Karunanayake said.

The Minister said Sri Lanka values the longstanding friendship and cooperation with Australia and he expressed confidence that the visit of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will further enhance the warm and friendly relations between both countries and serve as a catalyst to expand the partnership in multifaceted areas in the years ahead. (Colombo Gazette)