Written by Staff Writer
14 Jan, 2020 | 8:32 pm
Colombo (News 1st): For the first time in Sri Lanka, 3 key high ranking foreign officials arrived in the island on the same day. Accordingly, the Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells arrived in the country today (January 14).
Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov met with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today at the Presidential Secretariat.
Earlier today, Minister of Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardena held a joint conference with Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov in Colombo today.
Min. Dinesh Gunawardena: I take this opportunity to extend Sri Lanka’s deep appreciation to the government of the Russian Federation for its support for Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Sri Lanka and Russia are keen to further expand the bilateral economic engagement and increase the bilateral trade to meet the target volume of US$ 700 million, which was set in 2017 during the visit to Russia by former President Sirisena. Our total bilateral turnover in 2018 was US$ 388 million. Russia is Sri Lanka’s 15th largest export destination and 24th largest import oriented country.
Min. Sergey Lavrov: We are thankful for our Sri Lankan partners for the support for the initiatives that we promote in the UN General Assembly. Our delegations are comparing the notes and coordinating closely their efforts in UNESCO and UNHRC and the OPCW. In this context, such associations as BRICS and SCO have an important role to play and Russia presides over these this year. Sri Lanka is a dialogue partner in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and today and we have reaffirmed our interest in a more engaged and more proactive participation. We will also strengthen our cooperation through the non-aligned movement. Russia is an observer. Sri Lanka is a founding member. We express our support to Sri Lankan leaders to identify and hold accountable for the masterminds of the horrible attacks that took place in April last year.
Journalist: What concrete steps will be taken to enhance security and anti-terror cooperation with Sri Lanka? What investments can Sri Lanka expect from Russia in the coming years?
Min. Sergey Lavrov: As far as security is concerned his excellency the minister expressed satisfaction with the cooperation that we have. We have supplied and we will continue to supply arms to the Sri Lankan army that it needs to effectively fight off its enemies And improve its defense capacities. As far as investments are concerned, we know that Sri Lanka is keen to receive our support in the area of hydrocarbon exploration and building the tourism infrastructure. For these plans to take shape, we need to establish more direct contact between businesses and businesses of our country. In order to do so, I invite our counterparts to form and send a delegation of businessmen to speak at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum that will take place in June.
The visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also met with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for talks at the Presidential Secretariat this morning. During discussions, President Rajapaksa said the only way to overcome political challenges, is to be economically strong.
The head of state added that economic independence will ensure political independence. In response, the Chinese Foreign Minister said China’s policy towards Sri Lanka had always been consistent and China would continue to be Sri Lanka’s reliable friend.
The minister added “China will not allow any outside influences to interfere with matters that are essentially internal concerns of Sri Lanka” The Chinese Foreign Minister also met with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa this evening,
Prior to meeting the Prime Minister, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Minister of Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardena and held talks.
Meanwhile, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells who arrived in the island yesterday, met with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa today.
Following the meeting with the Prime Minister, the US Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs tweeted quoting Alice Wells noting the US values its relationship with Sri Lanka and looks forward to strengthening ties by expanding cooperation on economy and trade, counter-terrorism, security, transitional justice, and human rights – both nations will benefit.
Another tweet claimed, Alice Wells held a constructive meeting with MPs R.Sampanthan and M.A. Sumanthiran, discussing the importance of an inclusive government in creating the best conditions for sustainable economic growth.
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