(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) –The visiting Foreign Ministers and other dignitaries who were invited to participate in the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Independence of Sri Lanka called on Foreign Minister Ali Sabry at the Foreign Ministry in Colombo on 03 and 04 February 2023.
These included Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen from Bangladesh, Jai Bir Rai from Bhutan, V. Muraleedharan from India, Takei Shunsuke from Japan, Abdulla Shahid from the Maldives, Dr. Bimala Rai Paudyal from Nepal, and Hina Rabbani Khar from Pakistan.
During the individual bilateral meetings, Minister Ali Sabry underscored the warm, cordial and mutually supportive partnerships existing between Sri Lanka and friendly countries in the neighborhood. He expressed Sri Lanka’s keen interest to transform its bilateral ties through a results-oriented and mutually beneficial approach. The visiting Ministers and dignitaries also highlighted the importance placed by their countries in deepening their bilateral relations with Sri Lanka as a friend and valued partner.
During the meeting between Minster Sabry and his Bangladeshi counterpart Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, the two Ministers discussed elevating the multifaceted bilateral engagement into new areas through increased two-way trade, investment, shipping, ports and air connectivity and people-to-people contact.
Foreign Minister Sabry and Minister for Education and Skills Development of the Royal Government of Bhutan Jai Bir Rai discussed taking the friendly partnership to new heights focusing on education, tourism, and health cooperation between the two countries.
Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs of India Shri V. Muraleedharan reaffirmed India’s continuous support for the economic revival of Sri Lanka. The two ministers discussed their commitment to initiate a framework to further enhance business linkages targeting all potential areas that benefit both peoples. The importance of finding a mechanism to address the issues related to fisheries through a collective bilateral approach was also highlighted.
State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan Takei Shinseki and Foreign Minister Sabry discussed the way forward to increase Japanese investments and business ventures and promoting tourism in Sri Lanka. Japan extended its unconditional support to Sri Lanka in the ongoing debt restructuring efforts and noted that a transparent methodology in the restructuring process is likely to be acceptable to all creditors.
A Memorandum of Understanding between Sri Lanka and Maldives on Cooperation in Immigration Matters was signed by the Controllers General of Immigration of the two countries in the presence of Foreign Minister Sabry and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives Abdulla Shahid. Increasing connections between the two countries including through enhancing trade, tourism, education, and health cooperation were focused on during the meeting.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nepal Dr. Bimala Rai Paudyal visited Sri Lanka as her first official overseas visit after her appointment as the Foreign Minister of Nepal. During constructive bilateral discussions the two Foreign Ministers identified a broad spectrum of high potential areas including agriculture, education, culture, tourism, trade, investment, and people to people connectivity including through enhancing Buddhist religious links. Minister Paudyal also highlighted the importance of regional cooperation in South Asia.
Discussions held between Minister Sabry and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan Hina Rabbani Khar focused on further strengthening the warm and friendly cooperation between Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The sectors of security, education, development partnerships, tourism and hospitality, trade, investment, and maritime cooperation were highlighted, in addition to close and friendly engagement in multilateral fora.
During all bilateral engagements Foreign Minister Sabry expressed Sri Lanka’s deep appreciation for financial assistance, medical aid and other humanitarian assistance extended to Sri Lanka during the challenging times the country experienced last year.
Secretary General of the Commonwealth the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland also paid a courtesy call on the Foreign Minister in the afternoon of 4 February. Minister Sabry noted that Sri Lanka, as a founder member of the Commonwealth, maintains excellent cooperation with the Commonwealth in multifaceted areas.
Secretary General Scotland briefed Minister Sabry on new initiatives and priorities for the Commonwealth, particularly in smart governance and the assistance that could be rendered to the members through digitization of the public sector and improving the analytical capacity of policy makers. Both parties exchanged views on further enhancing collaboration between Sri Lanka and the Commonwealth in climate change, accessing Commonwealth climate financing, education, intra-Commonwealth trade as well as youth and sports in the context of year 2023 being declared by the Commonwealth as the “Year of Youth”. Minister Sabry accepted the invitation extended by the Secretary General to attend the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers’ meeting in March 2023.
Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardane and senior officials of the Foreign Ministry were associated with the bilateral meetings at the Foreign Ministry. Ambassadors/High Commissioners and seniors officials from the respective delegations were also present during the meetings.