Top UN official concludes Sri Lanka visit following extensive talks

United Nations Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Khaled Khiari has concluded his visit to Sri Lanka following a series of productive discussions, the UN office in Colombo said.

Khiari, who oversees the regional work of the UN’s Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs – Department of Peace Operations, met with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Minister of Foreign Affairs G.L. Pieris, Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Justice Ali Sabry, Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa, as well as representatives of Tamil and Muslim political parties, civil society, religious leaders, the diplomatic community, and the UN Country Team.

During his visit, which began on 23 November, Mr. Khiari acknowledged the Government’s willingness to work with the UN on efforts related to sustaining peace and emphasised the importance of inclusive governance, greater civic engagement, and the rights of all Sri Lankans as Sri Lanka strives to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Mr. Khiari reiterated the UN’s commitment to providing support in these areas.

Speaking at the conclusion of the visit, Khiari said he appreciated hearing from a broad range of voices in Sri Lanka about past and current challenges and opportunities and welcomed the cooperation between the UN and Sri Lanka on peace and development.

“I also reiterated our commitment to supporting Sri Lanka’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including SDG 16, which highlights how sustainable peace and development are intimately linked with access to justice for all and accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” he said.

Khiari’s visit followed UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s meeting with President Rajapaksa in September this year, where the Secretary-General expressed solidarity with Sri Lanka for ongoing challenges related to COVID-19 and discussed matters of mutual interest and concern. (Colombo Gazette)

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