Foreign Minister appreciates international support, discusses further cooperation

Prof. G. L. Peiris, Foreign Minister.

Foreign Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris has appreciated the continued support extended by China, India, Japan, Russia, and the EU to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, during separate meetings he had with Colombo based envoys over the past few days.

State Minister for Regional Co-operation, Tharaka Balasuriya and the Foreign Secretary, Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage were associated with Prof. Peiris at these meetings.

While thanking China for the continued support provided to Sri Lanka, Prof. Peiris discussed priorities for enhancing the relations between the two countries across the full spectrum during a meeting held with Ambassador of China to Sri Lanka, Qi Zhenhong.

The Ambassador Zhenhong extended sincere felicitations to the Foreign Minister on his new role and reiterated China’s continued commitment to assist the socio-economic development in Sri Lanka as well as the COVID-19 mitigating efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka.

The discussions centered on COVID-19 cooperation, people-to-people exchanges, economic development, poverty eradication and multilateral cooperation. In particular, the Foreign Minister Peiris requested China’s assistance for the immediate supply of liquid oxygen to meet the increasing demand.

Indian HC, Gopal Baglay called on the new Foreign Minister, Prof. G. L. Peiris after his assumption of duties. The Foreign Minister Peiris expressed appreciation and continuous support being provided by India for combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. Minister Peiris thanked the Government of India for supplying emergency consignments of liquid oxygen from east Indian ports, even by using Indian naval ships.

The discussion also centred on enhancing religious tourism. The Foreign Minister Peiris also appreciated the offer of US$ 15 million by the Government of India to preserve and promote Buddhist cultural sites in Sri Lanka and expressed interest in early implementation of the offer.

Both sides also discussed the possibility of the early convening of the Indo-Lanka Joint Commission, which was last convened in 2016. It was agreed that the six Working Groups under the Joint Commission, covering specific subject areas under education, science & technology, tourism, trade & investment, fisheries and the power sector, should meet at the earliest feasible opportunity.

Matters relating to fisheries were also discussed and both sides agreed to search for a meaningful, pragmatic solution to the issues. Indian assistance to develop fisheries harbours in Sri Lanka was greatly appreciated.

The discussion also focused on the setting up of pharmaceutical manufacturing plants by India in Sri Lanka.

Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka, Akira Sugiyama has reiterated Japan’s continued support and cooperation to Sri Lanka when he called on the new Foreign Minister, Prof. G. L. Peiris at the Foreign Ministry. Ambassador Sugiyama mentioned that Sri Lanka and Japan maintain excellent partnerships at all levels and emphasized that Japan is committed to complete all ongoing development projects on time, and accelerate the implementation of impending projects despite challenges posed by the pandemic.

Prof. Peiris thanked the Government and the people of Japan for extending steadfast support to Sri Lanka at its all-difficult times. Japan is a valuable partner of Sri Lanka in its fight against the Covid -19 pandemic, and the 1.4 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines recently donated to Sri Lanka by Japan were immensely useful to conduct an uninterrupted vaccination programme within the Western province in Sri Lanka.

Recalling Yasushi Akashi’s valuable contribution during the peace negotiations as a special envoy of the Government of Japan, Minister Peiris thanked Japan for understanding the ground realities in the country and its mediatory role in the international fora to find permanent solutions for the reconciliation and human rights issue in Sri Lanka.

While agreeing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year in a fitting manner, Foreign Minister Peiris and Ambassador Sugiyama both agreed to work tirelessly to enhance trade, investment, and people-to-people contacts between the two countries to a further height.

The Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Sri Lanka, Yuri B. Materiy paid a courtesy call on the newly appointed Foreign Minister, Prof. G. L. Peiris. During the meeting, Foreign Minister Peiris underscored the importance of Sri Lanka’s longstanding friendship and wide-ranging cooperation with Russia, and expressed appreciation for Russia’s support to Sri Lanka on issues of principle and relevance in multilateral fora.

The Foreign Minister’s sentiments were reciprocated by Ambassador Materiy who congratulated Foreign Minister Peiris on his appointment, and reiterated Russia’s interest in further expanding bilateral relations in multiple sectors including trade, investment and tourism, energy, science and technology, defence and counter-terrorism.

The meeting entailed reference to upcoming political consultations between the two Foreign Ministries; convening of the intergovernmental commission on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation; and commemoration of the 65th anniversary of Sri Lanka–Russia diplomatic relations in 2022.

The two sides agreed on the importance of pursuing shared solutions to common challenges faced by humanity today with the COVID -19 pandemic.

Foreign Minister, Prof. G. L. Peiris met Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to Sri Lanka, Denis Chaibi at the Foreign Ministry on Friday, August 20. Minister Peiris discussed Sri Lanka’s wide ranging cooperation with the EU in the political and economic spheres.

Foreign Minister Peiris discussed EU support to Sri Lanka in addressing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and expressed his sincere appreciation for the EU’s contribution to the COVAX facility in supporting global vaccine equity and research.

EU Ambassador, Chaibi apprised Foreign Minister Peiris on EU support and collaboration in the aftermath of the X-Press Pearl marine environmental disaster off the coast of Sri Lanka, as well as in enhancing Sri Lanka’s disaster preparedness in the future.

Sri Lanka’s regular engagement within the EU-Sri Lanka Joint Commission framework, as well as constructive cooperation existing under the EU GSP Plus monitoring process, including action underway by the Government on issues of relevance, were also discussed. Reference was made in this regard to upcoming EU missions to Sri Lanka, and to the convening of relevant working groups under the Joint Commission umbrella.

Foreign Minister Peiris reiterated the significance of EU-Sri Lanka trade relations which continues to be mutually beneficial with potential for further expansion. Matters related to cooperation in the fishery sector were also discussed.