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Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop shaking hands with President Maithripala Sirisena

Sri Lanka saw a host of foreign dignitaries visit the country during the past week. The international community, particularly the West has been accommodative of the current government’s requests which had resulted in the country regaining financial and other facilities.

However, Sri Lanka is now facing a different battle in terms of tackling the dengue epidemic. Several local and foreign organizations have pledged their assistance to help eradicate the menace which has taken many lives during the first six months of the year.
Recently, Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop also pledged the country’s support to fight the disease.

Bishop who was here on an official visit pledged Australia’s assistance when she called on President Maithripala Sirisena on Thursday morning.

She had announced that Australia would donate Rs. 58 million to the World Health Organisation to implement immediate Dengue prevention, management and eradication programmes in Sri Lanka.

She also called on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at Temple Trees and with Opposition Leader, R. Sampanthan on Friday.

She also met her Sri Lankan counterpart, Ravi Karunanayake during which they ways and means of further enhancing the bilateral cooperation in areas of mutual interest, including economic partnership, development cooperation, combating people smuggling, education and skill development, tourism, reconciliation and the role by Overseas Sri Lankans in the development of Sri Lanka.

The ministers also held discussions of on regional security challenges including maritime security as well as cooperation in the multilateral fora.

Minister Karunanayake also invited and encouraged Australian investors to take advantage of Sri Lanka transforming itself into an important and viable logistical hub in the East-West maritime arc.

The Sri Lankan Minister has expressed his deep appreciation for Australian development assistance received for several decades including under the Colombo Plan and thanked for the opportunities awarded for post graduate studies to Sri Lankan public officials through Australia Awards which is coming under the purview of Minister Bishop.

“We also discussed on enhancing cooperation in Technical and Vocational Education and Training to empower younger Sri Lankans,” he said.

Foreign Minister Bishop and Minister Karunanayake also discussed promotion of tourism between the two countries and Sri Lanka FM welcomed Australia’s assistance in the planning and development of the Sri Lanka tourism industry.

“We explored opportunities to collaborate in promoting eco-tourism and community based tourism. I am pleased to inform that SriLankan airlines will commence its operations to Melbourne with effect from October winter 2017,” he said.

Expressing appreciation to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for her keen interest in reaching out to Sri Lankan Australians and encouraging them to work with the Government of Sri Lanka towards common objectives, Minister Karunanayake said Sri Lanka continues to encourage overseas Sri Lankans to contribute to Sri Lanka’s economic development.
“Strengthening of the Sri Lankan economy and inclusive growth are important factors for ensuring long-term peace, stability, and non-recurrence of conflict,” he said.