Written by Tharushan Fernando
28 Jul, 2016 | 7:46 pm
The Foreign Minister of Canada Stephane Dion arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this is the first visit undertaken by a Canadian Foreign minister after a lapse of 13 years.
Foreign Minister of Canada ,Stephane Dion called on President Maithripala Sirisena at the President’s official residence on Thursday morning.
Minister Dion stated that Canada would provide every possible assistance to the steps taken by the government of President Maithripala Sirisena to strengthen democracy, the rule of law, reconciliation and economic development.
The Canadian Foreign Minister also praised the measures taken to strengthen democracy in Sri Lanka through the strengthening of the country’s judicial system.Visiting Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion also called on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Temple Trees today. A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office reads that the duo engaged in bilateral discussions.
Thereafter, the Canadian Foreign Minister called on his Sri Lankan counterpart, Mangala Samaraweera.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera stated that though geographically distant, Canada and Sri Lanka have shared a remarkable relationship over the years and it was somewhat sad to watch our relations drift for a while. He added that during their meeting, a range of issues of bilateral importance including development cooperation, reconciliation efforts, economic cooperation, governance and people-to-people ties were discussed as well as the importance of providing an economic peace dividend for the people of Sri Lanka and the interconnected nature of reconciliation and development.
“I also informed Minister Dion that we are keen to engage with the Sri Lankan community in Canada and invite them to visit the country that they left – or was compelled to leave many decades ago.”said Foreign Minister Samaraweera
The foreign minster also reiterated that Sri Lanka is keen to explore meaningful ways of contributing to Sri Lanka’s reconciliation and development efforts.We want to be a strong partner, both for your reconciliation, your democratization and your development”, said Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stéphane Dion
He added that Canada welcomes the positive engagement by Sri Lanka with the Human Rights Council and its mechanism in the context of UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka, co-sponsored by Sri Lanka and also by Canada.
He also added that Canada recognises the progress made towards constitutional reforms. He stated however that much more remains to be accomplished and as Prime Minister Trudeau said Canada is strong not despite, but because of its diversity.
“Why should it not become true for Sri Lanka?”, he said and went on to point out that the reconciliation journey will be long and strewn with obstacles but it is important to focus on the future.
The Canadian Foreign Minister is expected to travel to Jaffna on Friday where he will also meet with the Governor of the Northern province, Reginald Cooray.
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