(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) –Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris highlighted that Sri Lanka and Indonesia shared many common interests and goals, founded on long standing historical and cultural ties that predated the formal establishment of relations between the two countries in 1952.
The Minister made these remarks at a meeting when, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to Sri Lanka Dewi Gustina Tobing called on the Foreign Minister at the Foreign Ministry, on Monday 24 January 2022, the Foreign Ministry said.
This was Indonesian Ambassador’s first meeting with the Foreign Minister following the presentation of credentials to the President on 21 December, 2021.
The Minister recalled warmly meeting his counterpart Foreign Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in 2021 and also meeting Indonesian President Joko Widodo, at the COP26 and even before his inauguration, noting the excellent warm relations between the two countries.
Minister Peiris underscored that both countries shared global priorities in the international arena, dating to their membership of the Non-Alignment Movement and shared outlook on socio-economic development and international relations, including environment, climate change and sustainable development.
He emphasized the importance of the development of the Indian Ocean and the Indo- Pacific region and briefed on Sri Lanka’s chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and playing a leading role as Blue Charter Champion in the Commonwealth and its work on issues such as Mangrove conservation and spearheading the campaign for Sustainable Nitrogen Management.
The Foreign Minister and the Ambassador expressed interest to further expand cooperation, in a wide range of areas such as close cooperation in the United Nations and international fora, and supporting each other’s candidatures as well as to enhance trade, investment and tourism.
They underscored the importance of initiating not just high-level interaction of their leaders, but increasing people-to-people contacts and forging links with business, trade and tourism, particularly to commemorate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Indonesia that would be marked in August 2022.
Foreign Minister Peiris noted that it would be most appropriate to celebrate the anniversary of relations with a visit from his counterpart, and extended a warm invitation to the Foreign Minister of Indonesia to visit Sri Lanka.
Both also discussed the early convening of the third session of the Joint Commission between Sri Lanka and Indonesia, to be held in Colombo and the need to follow up and build on the visit of President Widodo to Sri Lanka to deepen and broaden economic collaboration, and the need to harness the untapped potential, in the bilateral economic sphere.
Minister Peiris apprised the Ambassador of Sri Lanka’s progress in reconciliation and the protection and promotion of human rights and socio-economic development of its people and engagement with the United Nations, but was opposed to the selective singling out of countries by some UN mechanisms, that were unwarranted and intrusive.
He stated that Sri Lanka was giving priority to economic diplomacy and increasing opportunities to expand trade and investment, particularly in the post pandemic world and both sides could share their experiences.
The Ambassador looked forward to enhance relations between the two countries and noted the potential for close collaboration and partnerships in trade, investment and tourism and noted the interest of some Indonesian Industry, to look at possible projects in Sri Lanka, as well as closer ties with the business community and Chambers of Commerce, as well as possible events and activities to raise more awareness on relations and areas to bolster cooperation for their mutual benefit.
Foreign Minister Peiris also noted significant possibilities in defense cooperation, including combating illicit drug trafficking and sharing of intelligence and underlined the importance of close interactions between maritime agencies, National Anti-Narcotic agencies, and counter terrorism, highlighting that approximately 60,000 ships passed through the Indian Ocean annually and about one third of the world’s oil also passed through the region.
They looked forward to use the momentum of the 70th anniversary to strengthen relations between the two countries for their mutual benefit, including high level visits later in the year.