Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris received High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to Sri Lanka Sarah Hulton, and conducted an open and wide-ranging discussion in Colombo on Tuesday (28). During the engagement, Minister Peiris and the UK Envoy discussed several key issues pertaining to the close bilateral relationship between the two countries.
The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister referred to the recent cordial engagement with British Minister of State for South Asia, United Nations and the Commonwealth Lord Tariq Ahmad on the side-lines of the 76th UN General Assembly in New York, following up on previous communication with the UK’s Minister of State. This dialogue, the Minister stated, is important in the context of Lord Ahmad’s initiatives to engage the Sri Lankan diaspora in the UK and to generate a more realistic understanding of contemporary developments in Sri Lanka. This is expected to be further enhanced by a proposed visit by the UK State Minister later in 2021.
Several key areas impacting on future Sri Lanka – UK bilateral relations were discussed, including the recent initiatives to foster and develop domestic reconciliation measures taken by the Sri Lankan Government. These included the work of the institutions dealing with national unity and reconciliation, missing persons, accountability and reparations. High Commissioner Hulton also raised concerns relating to certain high profile Sri Lankan cases that are of current interest and focus. Some of these issues were adverted to in the context of Sri Lanka’s ongoing engagement with the UN Human Rights Council.
Minister Peiris and High Commissioner Hulton also discussed enhanced trade and investment opportunities for UK businesses in Sri Lanka – especially new opportunities in the Port City development. Widening intra-Commonwealth trade and economic cooperation and related issues were also referred to.
Going forward, Sri Lanka’s positive commitments in support of global environmental initiatives in the larger context of participation in the upcoming COP26 Summit in the UK and its ongoing efforts in this sphere were also discussed.
Minister Peiris expressed his appreciation of the close, long-standing, historically significant and enduring relationship between the two countries and said he expected the fruitful and productive partnership to continue.