Hon. Thilak Marapana sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs

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Hon. Thilak Marapana, Minister of Development Assignments was sworn in as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, before President Maithripala Sirisena today (Aug. 15) at the Presidential Secretariat.

Secretary to the President, Mr Austin Fernando was also present at this occasion.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Colombo 01

15th August 2017

විදේශ කටයුතු අමාත්‍යවරයා ලෙස ගරු තිලක් මාරපන මහතා අද දිවුරුම් දුන්නේය.

නව විදේශ කටයුතු අමාත්‍යවරයා ලෙස ගරු තිලක් මාරපන මහතා අද (15) පෙරවරුවේ ජනාධිපති කාර්යාලයේදී ජනාධිපති ගරු මෛතී‍්‍රපාල සිරිසේන මැතිතුමා ඉදිරියේ දිවුරුම් දුන්නේය.

ජනාධිපති ලේකම් ඔස්ටින් ප‍්‍රනාන්දු මහතා ද මෙම අවස්ථාවට එක්ව සිටියේය.

විදේශ කටයුතු අමාත්‍යාංශය
කොළඹ 01
2017 අගෝස්තු 15

வெளிவிவகார அமைச்சராக கௌரவ.திலக் மாரப்பன அவர்கள் பதவிப் பிரமாணம்

புதிய வெளிவிவகார அமைச்சராக கௌரவ திலக் மாரப்பன அவர்கள் இன்று (15) முற்பகல் ஜனாதிபதி செயலகத்தில் ஜனாதிபதி கௌரவ மைத்ரிபால சிறிசேன அவர்களின் முன்னிலையில் பதவிப்பிரமாணம் செய்தார்.

ஜனாதிபதியின் செயலாளர் ஒஸ்டின் பெர்ணான்டோவும் இந்நிகழ்வில் கலந்துகொண்டார்.

வெளிநாட்டு அலுவல்கள் அமைச்சு
கொழும்பு 01

Prasad Kariyawasam assumes duties as Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Following his appointment by President Maithripala Sirisena on 29 July, as Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prasad Kariyawasam assumed duties yesterday morning, Tuesday 15 August 2017.

Mr. Kariyawasam joined the Sri Lanka Foreign Service in 1981. Prior to his appointment as Secretary, he served as the Ambassador for Sri Lanka to the United States of America from July 2014 to August 2017. He has held diplomatic assignments in Geneva, Riyadh, Washington, New York, and New Delhi, and has served as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York and Geneva and High Commissioner to India. He has been previously concurrently accredited as Ambassador / High Commissioner to Chile, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, Jamaica, the Holy See, Bhutan and Afghanistan.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

16 August 2017

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Statement by Hon. Ravi Karunanayake, Minister of Foreign Affairs following bilateral talks with Hon. Julie Bishop, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia on 19th July 2017 in Colombo


Your Excellency Julie Bishop, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia,
His Excellency Bryce Hutchesson, High Commissioner of Australia,
Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure I extend a warm welcome to Hon. Julie Bishop, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia to Sri Lanka. The visit is significant, since it coincides with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Australia.

The people to people links are the bedrock of the bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Australia. The presence of over 150,000 Australians of Sri Lankan origin has provided a human bridge between the two countries.

The year of 70th Anniversary of our diplomatic relations have generated a new momentum in our longstanding relations with a series of recent high level visits. H.E. President Maithripala Sirisena undertook a State visit and Hon. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe undertook an official visit to Australia this year. The fruitful outcomes of these visits would serve as a roadmap for our cooperation in the years ahead.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and I just concluded productive discussions on ways and means of further enhancing our bilateral cooperation in areas of mutual interest, including economic partnership, development cooperation, combating people smuggling, education and skill development, tourism, reconciliation and the role by Overseas Sri Lankans in the development of Sri Lanka. We also discussed on regional security challenges including maritime security as well as cooperation in the multilateral fora.

Sri Lanka’s economic ties with Australia have now transformed itself into a dynamic partnership due to growing trade, investment, and new business interests. I extend an invitation to Australian investors to take full advantage of Sri Lanka transforming itself into an important and viable logistical hub in the East-West maritime arc.

I expressed my deep appreciation for Australian development assistance received for several decades including under the Colombo Plan. Sri Lanka is also thankful for the opportunities awarded for post graduate studies to Sri Lankan public officials through Australia Awards which is coming under the purview of Hon. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. We also discussed on enhancing cooperation in Technical and Vocational Education and Training to empower younger Sri Lankans.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and I discussed on promotion of tourism between the two countries. I welcomed Australia’s assistance in the planning and development of the Sri Lanka tourism industry. We explored opportunities to collaborate in promoting eco-tourism and community based tourism. I am pleased to inform that Sri Lankan airlines will commence its operations to Melbourne with effect from October winter 2017.

I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for her keen interest in reaching out to Sri Lankan Australians and encouraging them to work with the Government of Sri Lanka towards common objectives. Sri Lanka continues to encourage overseas Sri Lankans to contribute to Sri Lanka’s economic development. Strengthening of the Sri Lankan economy and inclusive growth are important factors for ensuring long-term peace, stability, and non-recurrence of conflict.

It is a happy coincidence that Foreign Minister of Singapore Vivian Balakrishnan and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop are visiting Sri Lanka at the same time.  I am glad to inform that we have made use of this opportunity to meet together tomorrow to discuss on issues of common interest.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will pay courtesy calls on President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe tomorrow.

Sri Lanka values the longstanding friendship and cooperation with Australia. I am confident that the visit of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will further enhance our warm and friendly relations and serve as a catalyst to expand our partnership in multifaceted areas in the years ahead.

I wish Minister Julie Bishop and her delegation a very pleasant stay in Sri Lanka.

Thank you.

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Global Ceylon Tea Party kicks off in Canberra

The Global Ceylon Tea Party celebrating the 150th anniversary of Ceylon Tea got underway on 6th July with the first party in the Pacific region being held in Canberra at the  Sri Lanka High Commission.

Specially identified Tea businesses, Tea traders, travel writers & firms and selected academics, officials, diplomats were invited to this unique event.

Read More »

Government Approves Historic National Policy on Reconciliation and Coexistence

On 2nd May 2017, in a historic move, the Cabinet of Ministers of the Government of Sri Lanka approved Sri Lanka’s first National Reconciliation Policy.

The process for developing the National Reconciliation Policy was initiated in September 2015 by the Office for National Unity & Reconciliation (ONUR) chaired by Former President Her Excellency Madam Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.

After a one-year comprehensive consultation process with multiple stakeholders including Government officials, ministries, departments, members of provincial councils, civil society, academia, and experts and grass-roots activists, the National Reconciliation Policy was submitted by His Excellency President Maithripala Sirisena in September 2016 to Cabinet of Ministers for discussion. In his accompanying note to the Cabinet, His Excellency stated that the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) had drafted the National Policy in a “manner that reflects that reconciliation is a whole-of-government effort and a multi-stakeholder endeavour.”

At this Cabinet Meeting in September 2016, Hon Minister Mano Ganeshan, Minister of National Coexistence, Dialogue & Official Languages, requested a few amendments to the document. Hence, the Cabinet directed the Secretary to the President to discuss these concerns with ONUR, who had prepared and drafted the National Policy on Reconciliation, and with Ministers and Secretaries of relevant Ministries and present a final version of the National Policy on Reconciliation. The Ministry of National Coexistence, Dialogue & Official Languages sent in amendments comprising paragraphs regards two matters, namely, language policy and coexistence. The rest of the original document as was prepared and drafted by ONUR was agreed to by the Ministry National Coexistence, Dialogue & Official Languages and other relevant Ministries.

Accordingly, ONUR prepared the final version of the National Policy on Reconciliation and it was this final version of the document prepared by ONUR that was adopted by the Government at the Cabinet of Ministers’ meeting held on 2 May 2016.

ONUR held further discussions and consultations with stakeholders and the revised final version of the National Reconciliation Policy & Coexistence was resubmitted as a joint Cabinet Memorandum by His Excellency President Maithripala Sirisena and Hon Mano Ganeshan, Minister of National Coexistence, Dialogue & Official Languages, to the Cabinet of Ministers on 2 May 2017 for adoption.

The National Reconciliation Policy declares that will “serve as the State policy on reconciliation” and “provide direction to the process of national reconciliation in Sri Lanka.” Further, it says that it will “provide a guiding framework to all stakeholders working on reconciliation in order to achieve coherence in reconciliation initiatives.”

The National Policy on Reconciliation is set to fill a long-standing vacuum due to the absence of a consolidated National Policy on Reconciliation. The National Policy on Reconciliation will aim to satisfy the need of the country for an over-arching vision on reconciliation and a broad, coherent framework to steer and direct the process of national reconciliation. In this regard, it declares that, “Acknowledging that while several reconciliation initiatives are underway, there does not exist an expressed declared policy by the Government of Sri Lanka on the subject; hence this National Policy on Reconciliation aims to bridge this gap.”

This National Reconciliation Policy has laid down a set of “Policy Principles” which it defines as “A set of actionable principles and long-term goals that will form the basis for making rules and guidelines, and to provide overall direction to planning and development for national reconciliation. These include Equality, Human Rights, Justice and the Rule of Law, Transitional Justice, Inclusivity and Diversity, Sustainable Development, Civic Consciousness and others. The National Reconciliation Policy also lays down guidelines for stakeholders and actors implementing reconciliation programs and has identified the following as critical to it, namely, Conflict Sensitivity, Cross-Cultural Awareness, Victim-Centredness, Gender Responsiveness, Foresight and Innovation, Leadership and Sustainability, Efficiency and Effectiveness, Coordination and Complementarity and Clear and Consistent Communication.

The National Reconciliation Policy includes an Implementation Strategy which has stated as follows: “Mainstream the values defined in the National Policy on Reconciliation within government institutions and existing national initiatives through annual work plans; Develop a National Programme and Action Plan for Reconciliation; and Launch public awareness and education campaigns on the National Policy on Reconciliation and the National Programme and Action Plan on Reconciliation.”

The Policy Document in English, Sinhala and Tamil can be downloaded via the link: www.tiny.cc/ONURpolicy2017




  1. Australia and Sri Lanka have built a strong and enduring relationship since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1947. Underpinning this friendship are strong historical ties, common values and many shared interests – including a commitment to democracy, the rule-of-law, and support for a stable, liberal rules-based international order.
  1. Australia and Sri Lanka have achieved much together over the past 70 years. Our longstanding development partnership has helped alleviate poverty and build human capital. Our people-to-people links are extensive across all sectors of society – academia, media, culture, literature, science, sport, medicine, politics, commerce and law. Our close cooperation on security and defence matters has been particularly effective in countering people smuggling and enhancing regional security.
  1. Australia recognises Sri Lanka’s strong economic growth and considerable progress toward national reconciliation since the end of the conflictin 2009. Its economic reform agenda, deeper integration with the global economy and progress toward becoming an important Indian Ocean economic hub present new opportunities to expand the economic relationship.
  1. In recognition of the closeness of our bilateral relations and to further deepen our partnership, this Joint Declaration on Enhanced Cooperation, signed on the occasion of the State Visit by President H.E. Maithripala Sirisena to Australia, marks the 70th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. This declaration seeks to guide our enhanced bilateral partnership in coming years.

Security and defence cooperation

  1. As close neighbours, Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) members and trading nations, Australia and Sri Lanka mutually benefit from a peaceful and secure maritime domain. Both countries are committed to closer cooperation and engagement in the Indo-Pacific to help create a more prosperous and secure region.
  1. We will continue to work together to shape the future of the region and the broader global environment by supporting, reinforcing and strengthening regional norms and the rules-based order, including through forums, particularly IORA, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime. We will enhance our dialogue on strategic policy matters, both bilaterally and through regional forums such as the Galle Dialogue and Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS).
  1. Australia and Sri Lanka will maintain our efforts to prevent people smuggling and to ensure a close working relationship between relevant agencies. Both countries commit to enhance police and legal cooperation on other transnational crime, including human trafficking and modern slavery, money laundering, narcotics smuggling and international terrorism. 
  1. Australia and Sri Lanka are committed to ongoing defence engagement, particularly on maritime security. Our navy-to-navy links have been a highlight of the bilateral relationship. Both countries commit to explore additional, individual training opportunities and provision of expert assistance. Recognising our mutual interests in the Indian Ocean, both countries will continue to cooperate on search and rescue, and maritime safety through the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control.
  1. Australia recognises the importance of Sri Lanka’s human rights, reconciliation and transitional justice agendas to its long-term peace and prosperity. Australia will continue to stand with Sri Lanka on this journey, including through lending practical support for reconciliation measures.

Economic cooperation

  1. Australia and Sri Lanka are committed to harnessing the significant opportunities of greater trade and economic integration in the Indo-Pacific region. Both countries will also do more to expand bilateral trade and investment, particularly in agribusiness, energy, education, tourism, hospitality and mining. 
  1. Both countries commit to explore the possibility of improving market access, trade promotion and investment facilitation. Australia will continue to support Sri Lanka by providing technical advice in support of trade facilitation reform and improving its business-enabling environment. This may include establishing a bilateral framework to expand the economic relationship.
  1. Both countries recognise new and growing opportunities for greater energy cooperation. Sri Lanka’s energy requirements are changing and Australia is a major global energy supplier. Australian private sector investment expertise in energy infrastructure holds potential to drive future economic growth in Sri Lanka. 
  1. Australia and Sri Lanka recognise the opportunities for closer cooperation in the minerals and mining sector. Australia will help Sri Lanka map its natural resources and establish a sustainable mining sector under an exchange of letters between Geoscience Australia and the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment. 
  1. Both countries recognise the importance of tourism to our national economies. As a major driver of economic growth, Australia will continue to assist Sri Lanka develop a sustainable tourism industry that generates widespread employment opportunities. Australia will continue to assist Sri Lanka promote investment opportunities in its tourism industry.

Development cooperation

  1. Australia and Sri Lanka recognise our longstanding development partnership has made an important contribution to Sri Lanka’s growth and prosperity. Australia remains strongly committed to assisting the Sri Lankan Government achieve its inclusive development goals, including through developing skills and opportunities for small business, and encouraging greater participation of women in the workforce.
  1. Australia and Sri Lanka commit to explore opportunities for greater collaboration in developing Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector, in particular dairy and fisheries, including by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). 
  1. Australia and Sri Lanka commit to explore opportunities for enhanced collaboration in science, technology and innovation, in particular to address the prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown etiology (CKDu) in Sri Lanka through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and the Presidential Taskforce on CKDu in Sri Lanka. 
  1. Noting the regular occurrence of natural disasters in both countries, Australia and Sri Lanka commit to continued cooperation in disaster management, including through international development partners.

Education and people-to-people links

  1. Australia and Sri Lanka recognise the positive role of our extensive people-to-people links, which are the bedrock of our warm bilateral relationship. Australia’s large Sri Lankan community has made a significant contribution to many different sectors of Australian society and economy. 
  1. Both countries recognise that overseas Sri Lankans, including those based in Australia, have the potential to make a significant contribution to Sri Lanka’s reconciliation process and future development. Australia and Sri Lanka commit to continue to support initiatives to encourage overseas Sri Lankans to contribute to Sri Lanka’s economic development. 
  1. Our strong and growing education ties have boosted the human capital of both countries. Australia and Sri Lanka commit to enhancing cooperation in research and vocational training including through partnerships between our educational institutions, our development partnership and implementation of the New Colombo Plan. Both countries commit to enhance cooperation in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) to empower younger Sri Lankans. 
  1. Sporting exchanges further enhance our bilateral relationship. Under the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding on Sports Cooperation, Australia and Sri Lanka commit to promote cooperation between professionals in cricket, basketball, swimming, volleyball, tennis, boxing, rugby, cycling, golf and baseball, as well as in sports integrity measures.


  1. Australia and Sri Lanka jointly decide to take forward enhanced bilateral cooperation in these fields through the Sri Lanka-Australia Senior Officials Talks; the Sri Lanka-Australia Joint Working Group on People Smuggling and Other Transnational Crime; official visits and exchanges in each direction.


 Signed in Canberra on 25 May 2017.

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President Sirisena to undertake State Visit to Australia

President Maithripala Sirisena will undertake a state visit to Australia on 24-26 May 2017 at the invitation of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The visit takes place as both countries celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year.

During the visit, President Sirisena will hold bilateral meetings with Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrave and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on 25 May 2017. The Governor-General will host a State Lunch for the President

Following the meeting with Prime Minister Turnbull, a Joint Declaration on Enhanced Cooperation between Australia and Sri Lanka, is expected to be signed. A Memorandum of Understanding on a Cooperative Programme on the Epidemiology of Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology, between the Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organisation and the Sri Lanka Presidential Taskforce for Prevention of Chronic Kidney Disease is also to be signed. A Letter of Intent on Cooperation between Geoscience Australia and the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau of Sri Lanka would also be exchanged during the visit.

President Sirisena will also hold bilateral meetings with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton and Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten.

A Breakfast meeting with members of the Business community in Sydney will be held on 26 May for the President. President Sirisena will also meet with members of the Sri Lankan community in Canberra and Sydney, and is scheduled to visit the Centre for Genomics, Metabolomics and Bioinformatics at the Australian National University (ANU) and the Mount Majura Solar Farm.

President Sirisena’s delegation will include Minister of Tourism Development & Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga, Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva, Deputy Minister of Power and Renewable Energy Ajith P. Perera and Member of Parliament Harshana Rajakaruna.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

23 May 2017

Vesak celebrated at Sri Lanka High Commission in Canberra

Vesak celebrations at the Sri Lanka High Commission in Canberra commenced on Vesak Full Moon Poya Day with alms offered to the resident monks of the Canberra Sri Lanka Buddhist Vihara at the High Commission. On Saturday 13th May Vesak Bhakthi Gee were presented by the High Commission staff.

Saturday programme included blessings invoked by the venerable monks followed by Bhakthi Gee, where all staff of the High Commission took part.

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UN Day of Vesak Conference & Celebrations

Press Release

The UN Day of Vesak Conference will be held in Sri Lanka with 1600 participants from 85 countries from May 12th to 14th in Colombo and Kandy.

Some 750 international participants are expected from 85 countries, according to the Conference Secretariat.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will ceremonially open the conference in Colombo and Nepali President Bidhya Devi Bandari will be the Chief Guest of the closing ceremony to be held in Kandy. President Maithreepala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and senior Cabinet ministers will also grace these occasions.

The Inauguration of the International Conference will take place on the 12th of Friday with the participation of the Chief Prelates  of the respective Nikayas, Ven Maha Sangha, religious  dignitaries including Sangharaja Thera’s from Theravada countries including Sri Lanka. The theme of this year’s conference is “Buddhist Teachings for Social Justice and Sustainable World Peace. The four main topics of the conference would be Social and Natural Justice in the Buddhist perspectives, Inter- Religious understanding for Common future for the humankind, Buddhist forum for Economics and Promotion of Cultural Tourism and International Buddhist MediaNetwork.

The second half of the Conference including closing ceremony will be held on Sunday (14th) at the Precincts of the Historic Dalada Maligawa in Kandy. A special exposition of the Tooth Relics of The Buddha will also be held in-line with the ceremony. Hon Minister of Buddha Sasana Dr Wijayadasa Rajapakse will conclude the academic sessions with a presentation of the Declaration of the Conference titled ” Mahanuwara Prakashanaya.” A special cultural pageant to mark the occasion under the guidance of  Chief Prelates of the Malwatte and Asgiriya Chapters and the DIyawadana Nilame will also be held to mark the closing the of conference.

Though the UN Vesak Day has a brief history of around 17 to 18 years the initial work originated as far back as 1950, where Prof Gunapala Malalasekera proposed at the conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists held in Ceylon that the Vesak Day should be officially recognized by the UN. However, it was  only in 1999 that the then Minister of Foreign Affiairs the Late Lakshman Kadirgamar together with the support of 33 countries moved for the  adoption of a resolution to Recognize the Vesak Day which the Birth , Enlightenment and the Parinirvana of The Buddha to be recognized internationally by the United Nations.

Ever since the adoption and ratification, annual celebrations of the UN Day of Vesak was held annually on 13 occasions in Thailand (11 ) and Vietnam (2) . At the annual celebrations held in Thailand last year the keynote address was delivered by Sri Lanka’s Minister of Buddhasasana Dr Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe where he proposed to grant Sri Lanka the opportunity to host the International Conference and Celebrations in 2017.



The Sri Lanka High Commission commemorated the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Australia by organising a blood donation on Saturday 29th April, in collaboration with the Red Cross Blood Service and the Sri Lankan community in Canberra. 29th April holds special significance as the date on which the first Commissioner of Australia to then Ceylon, Charles Frost, set up office in Colombo in 1947.

Over 80 blood and plasma donations were made at the Red Cross House in Canberra which will help save approximately 270 Australian lives. The donors included staff of the High Commission, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Sri Lankan community in Canberra.

High Commissioner Skandakumar was joined by Member of the ACT Legislative Assembly Suzanne Orr and Assistant Secretary/ South Asia Branch of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Andrew Collins to cut a specially designed cake prepared by Savitri Lecamwasam for the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms Orr said “I congratulate the Sri Lanka High Commission for this unique way of celebrating the 70th Anniversary of our diplomatic relations, by donating blood as a gesture to symbolise the strong bonds of friendship and goodwill”.

High Commissioner Skandakumar recalled the anniversary celebration at Parliament House on Valentine’s Day, when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hosted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, and paid tribute in particular to the strong people to people ties.

The High Commissioner said that “the blood donation programme was a goodwill gesture towards the wellbeing of the Australian people and acknowledged the near 150,00 Sri Lankans who have made Australia their home and contributed meaningfully to the economy.”

The High Commissioner thanked Janaka Welikala from the Sri Lankan community in Canberra who helped the High Commission in organising the programme, and all community members who participated by donating blood or plasma, and to those who contributed by providing refreshments to the donors.

Sri Lanka High Commission

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If you are a current/former Sri Lankan or an office bearer of a Sri Lankan community organisation we invite you to register with the High Commission.


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