The Australian Prime Minister has given his Sri Lankan counterpart
an assurance to extend maximum support required to make Sri Lanka the economic and financial hub in the Indian Ocean. The Prime Minister made an appeal to Sri Lankans remaining illegally in Australia to return to their land.
The meeting between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took place at the Parliament House in Canberra. This is the first time that a Sri Lankan Prime Minister has held bilateral discussion after Sir John Kotalawala in the year 1954. To mark this historic occasion a very warm welcome ceremony was organized. A 19-gun salute was accorded on behalf of Ranil Wickremasinghe. It was followed by the rendering of the National Anthem in addition to a march past. After inspecting the march past and the band, The Australian Prime Minister introduced his representatives to the Sri Lankan Prime Minister. Among them were Chairman of the Senate Council Stephen Parry, Speaker Tony Smith, Chairman of Diplomacy and High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea Dr. Catherine Lepani, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Chief of Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin.
It was followed by the introduction of the Sri Lankan delegation to the Australian Prime Minister by Premier Wickremasinghe. The national anthem of the two countries was played after the two Prime Ministers arrived at the special dais. It was followed by the conduct of delegation to the Parliament House. Prime Minister Wickremasinghe and Prof. Maithri Wickremasinghe signed the visitor’s book. Thereafter the official talks between the two Prime Ministers commenced.
Malcolm Turnbull appreciated the new path Sri Lanka entered under President Maithripala Sirisena to achieve economic growth, national unity and reconciliation. Australia will always support Sri Lanka and also appear on behalf of the island nation. The importance of establishing a Budget Bureau in the Sri Lankan Parliament was emphasized. The Australian Prime Minister assured support in this respect.
Premier Wickremasinghe expressed his special gratitude to Australia for appearing on behalf of Sri Lanka when it was experiencing difficult times. Attention was directed to upgrading regional trade as well as expanding trade and investment opportunities. Discussions centred on increasing investment opportunities in agri businesses, excavations, energy and tourism. It was the view of both leaders that cooperative programmes which are operative in the education and defence sectors should be further expanded in the future. Attention was focused specially on joint initiatives that should be taken on marine security.
The Australian Prime Minister accepted an invitation extended to undertake an official visit to Sri Lanka.
The Australian side was represented at this meeting by Secretary of the Australian Prime Minister’s Department and Cabinet Martin Parkinson and Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Bryce Hutchesson.
Ministers Vijith Vijayamuni Soysa and Arjuna Ranatunge Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha De Silva, Prime Minister’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake, Prime Minister’s Additional Secretary Saman Athaudahetti, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Australia Somasunderam Skandakumar, Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner to Australia Himali Arunatilake and Prime Minister’s Special Assistant Sandra Perera were among those who represented Sri Lanka.