Sri Lanka, Australia hold discussions on strengthening cooperation in key areas

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Sri Lanka and Australia recently held the inaugural session of the Strategic Maritime Dialogue and the Third Round of Senior Officials’ Talks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Colombo.

At the Third Round of Senior Officials’ Talks between Sri Lanka and Australia held on September 17, 2019, the two countries held extensive discussions on strengthening cooperation on key areas across the broad spectrum of relations, including Transnational Organized Crime, Defense, Reconciliation and Human Rights, Development Partnership, Foreign Ministry Cooperation and Regional and Multilateral issues

Both sides agreed to maintain the excellent momentum in the relationship, and underscored their commitment to a rule-based, open and inclusive regional order and to strengthening regional architecture, including the Indian Ocean Rim Association and the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium.

The Sri Lankan delegation was led by Additional Secretary, Bilateral Affairs (East) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, P. Selvaraj, while the Australian Delegation was headed by First Assistant Secretary, South West Asia Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia, Dr. Lachlan Strahan.

The inaugural session of the Strategic Maritime Dialogue held between the two sides underlined the importance of working together on maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean and collaborating on blue economy related initiatives.

The Joint Commission on Bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) between the two countries was also held on September 17, 2019.

The TIFA talks co-chaired by Secretary, Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade, S. T. Kodikara and First Assistant Secretary, Dr. Lachlan Strahan, highlighted the importance of developing stronger trade and investment links.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1947, Sri Lanka and Australia have enjoyed a longstanding bilateral relationship over seven decades, spanning diverse areas of cooperation, including political, economic, development and security spheres.

The Senior Officials’ Talks held biennially is the principal platform between Sri Lanka and Australia to take stock of the existing relations and to discuss avenues for strengthening future cooperation in keeping with policy priorities of the two countries.

The Australian Delegation included High Commissioner of Australia to Sri Lanka, David Holly; Assistant Secretary Global Interests, Department of Defense, Jarrod Howard; Minister-Counsellor Home Affairs, Australian High Commission in New Delhi, Tara Cavanagh; Assistant Director, Sri Lanka/Maldives Section, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dananthi Galapitage; and officials of the Australian High Commission in Colombo.

The Sri Lankan delegation included senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology, Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs, Ministry of Health, Nutrition & Indigenous Medicine, Department of External Resources, Department of Immigration & Emigration and the Prison Headquarters.

The next round of Senior Officials’ Talks will be held in Canberra, Australia in 2021.