President’s visit will boost Australia-SL ties – High Commissioner
Strong relationship between Sri Lanka and India will take a quantum jump as a result of the state visit of President Maithripala Sirisena. Stating this, Sri Lankan High Commissioner Somasundaram Skandakumar said that the bilateral cooperation that has steadily improved over the years has spread into new areas of cooperation in recent years.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the President’s Media Division, he said that, the fact that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull invited our President for a state visit proves the new high in our longstanding friendship. The last state visit took place six decades ago when Prime Minister Sir John Kothalawala visited Australia, in the aftermath of setting up of Colombo Plan, in Colombo. Australia is a leading member of the Colombo Plan under which several programmes have been launched for the development of the education sector.
In the new areas of corporation, Australia is looking at investments in mining sector, hospitality, dairy industry and agriculture. The High Commissioner said that the President, who also holds the portfolio of Environment, will be visiting the National Arboretum in Canberra, where he would plant a sapling of Mahogany (Toona Ciliata). The President is also scheduled to visit the ANU-CSIRO Centre for Genomics, Metabolomics and Bioinformatics where excellent research has been done on development of food crops. “Sri Lanka can learn a lot from these two centres about preservation of environment, expansion of forest density and agriculture and good crop research” Mr. Skandakumar said.
The High Commissioner emphasized that there is a huge potential for expansion of corporation in mining industry and education. He said that the Australian investors are looking at mine exploration on the western coastal areas. In recent years, the security corporation, especially maritime security between the two countries has improved. Realizing the imperative need for security in the Indian Ocean region, Australia has presented two modern patrolling vessels to Sri Lankan coast guards. The two countries are actively cooperating in curbing of human smuggling and prevention of maritime piracy.
The High Commissioner said that the President’s meetings with the Prime Minister Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Defense Minister Marise Payne, Education Minister Simon Birmingham, and Minister for Immigration and Border protection peter Dutton would expect to yield wide ranging results. Few Memoranda of Understanding are expected to be signed.
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