Sri Lanka and Turkey today discussed defence relations, including the need to focus on intelligence sharing.
The new Ambassador of Turkey to Sri Lanka Demet Sekercioglu called on Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees this morning.
Discussions focused on expanding bilateral relations beyond economic interests to a number of other sectors including culture and education.
“There are so many areas where we can enhance our relations,” the Prime Minister’s Office quoted Ambassador Sekercioglu as saying.
Sri Lanka and Turkey have maintained formal diplomatic relations since independence. These relations were elevated during my term as President. In 2008, I was the first Sri Lankan President to visit Turkey. In 2012, Sri Lanka opened its resident mission in Ankara, and in 2013 Turkey opened its resident mission in Colombo.
Rajapaksa said that he requested Turkey to also consider assisting Sri Lanka in the tourism sector.
“With Turkish Airlines flying daily to Sri Lanka, it’s a good opportunity to attract tourists not only from Turkey but other parts of the world as well,” he said.
Rajapaksa said that they also discussed the defense sector and agreed that intelligence sharing is of mutual importance in fighting terrorism.
Ambassador Sekercioglu noted that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is keen on visiting Sri Lanka again.
President Erdoğan was last in Sri Lanka in 2005 during his tour of countries affected by the 2004 Asian tsunami.
Turkey contributed to tsunami relief by building a village consisting of 450 houses in Southern Sri Lanka.