Media Statement by Hon. Ravi Karunanayake, Minister of Foreign Affairs following Bilateral Talks with H.E. (Dr.) Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Singapore
18th July 2017 in Colombo
His Excellency Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Singapore,
His Excellency Albert Chua, Second Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, His Excellency Mr. Chandra Das, Non – Resident High Commissioner of Singapore to Sri Lanka, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome His Excellency Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Singapore to Sri Lanka. This visit is of special importance to me as he is the first Foreign Minister I receive in the country after my assumption of office as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka. I am confident that the visit of His Excellency Balakrishnan will serve as an impetus to scaling new heights in the longstanding relations between our two countries.
Sri Lanka and Singapore enjoy strong and robust bilateral relations that have been built on mutual understanding and respect as well as through people to people contacts. The Official visit by the Hon. Prime Minister of Sri Lanka to Singapore last July has opened a new chapter in further enhancing our bilateral relations. Sri Lanka looks forward to the visit of Prime Minister of Singapore early next year.
Foreign Minister Balakrishnan and I have just concluded a productive discussion on a range of areas of mutual interest including economic and development cooperation, tourism and people to people to contacts, cultural cooperation, defense and maritime cooperation, reconciliation as well as cooperation in the regional and multilateral fora. Particular attention was paid to ways and means of further strengthening our bilateral trade and investment including the proposed Sri Lanka - Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA),which is expected to be finalized during the latter part of 2017.
I expressed my deep appreciation for the training opportunities offered by Singapore to Sri Lankan public sector officials including Sri Lanka Foreign Service officials through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Civil Service College of Singapore and Temasek International. We discussed ways of further strengthening training and educational collaboration between two countries.
I also conveyed Sri Lanka’s appreciation for the support extended by Singapore for the country’s infrastructure development. We explored the opportunities available for Singaporean investors in the ongoing mega projects in Sri Lanka including the Colombo International Financial City, Western Province Megapolis Project and Trincomalee District Development Projects.
We discussed on collaboration between the two countries in Tourism Development Programmes including capacity building and promotional activities. Singapore has offered assistance for tourism sector in Sri Lanka under the Singapore Co-operation Programme (SCP).
Foreign Minister Balakrishnan and I shared the view that Sri Lanka and Singapore to work closely in addressing shared regional security challenges in order to preserve maritime security in the Indian Ocean. We also resolved for stronger bilateral cooperation on strategic issues within multilateral fora that affect the region.
Foreign Minister Balakrishnan paid a courtesy call on His Excellency the President Maithripala Sirisena, this morning and will meet Hon. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe tomorrow. I am confident that these meetings will further elevate our strong bilateral ties.
Sri Lanka deeply values the long standing bonds of friendship and cooperation with Singapore. I have no doubt that the visit of Foreign Minister Balakrishnan would lead to a new and more fruitful chapter in our bilateral cooperation in the years ahead.
I wish Minister Balakrishnan and his delegation a very pleasant stay in Sri Lanka.