Sri Lanka and Australia sign MOU enabling closer cooperation on counter people smuggling



Sri Lanka and Australia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 6rth September enabling even closer cooperation between the two countries on counter-people smuggling. The MOU was signed at a ceremony in Canberra by Department of Immigration and Border Protection Secretary Michael Pezzullo and Sri Lankan Secretary for Defence Kapila Waidyaratne, on the sidelines of the Joint Working Group on People Smuggling and Other Transnational Crimes.

The agreement will facilitate the return to Sri Lanka of people who are involved in people smuggling activities. It also paves the way for enhanced information sharing on methods for tracking, intercepting and investigating people smugglers. The agreement will also see further cooperation between the two nations on countering human trafficking, stopping the movement of illicit goods and targeting money laundering and proceeds of crime. Training and cooperation in Australia and Sri Lanka will give officers from both agencies the opportunity to strengthen their skills across these areas and foster closer working relationships.

Australia and Sri Lanka have a long history of successful cooperation on people smuggling and a range of other transnational crimes.


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Sri Lankan Tea celebrated at the Australian Federal Parliament

Australian Members of Parliament, Senators, government officials and Tea industry specialists enjoyed teas from the seven tea growing regions of Sri Lanka at a Tea Party organised in the Main Committee Room of the Australian Parliament on Wednesday 6th September. The Tea Party was co-hosted by the Australia Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Group and the Sri Lanka High Commission to celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries and the 150th anniversary of the Sri Lankan Tea Industry. Sri Lanka Tea Board was the main partner at the event and provided material support to make the event a success. Read More »

Address by Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, Indian Ocean Conference 2017: 31 August 2017



Address by Hon Tilak Marapana

 Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka

Indian Ocean Conference 2017

 31st August- 1st September 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies & Gentlemen,

The Indian Ocean has historically been a powerful communication channel for the spread of culture, global trade and commerce. Today, the Indian Ocean’s traditional status as a major source of livelihood is more valid than ever before, as it remains an important international trade highway.

It is in this context that the 2nd Indian Ocean Conference assumes significance. Identifying common challenges and finding amicable solutions will help us, as a community of nations to grow, prosper and secure our future together. Sri Lanka stands ready to do whatever is necessary towards achieving peace, progress and prosperity in the Indian Ocean region.

As an island nation, Ocean Affairs is of vital significance to Sri Lanka. We have for many years participated prominently in many international and regional initiatives related to Ocean Affairs. More significantly, we were closely involved from the outset with the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea at which a new legal regime for the oceans was developed.

The situation in the world, particularly in the Indian Ocean, has undergone a major transformation since that time. The end of Cold War, and the shift towards globalization, benefitted the region’s economic thrust. However, several new challenges and threats to regional stability and security have emerged such as cross border issues, terrorism, piracy, drug trafficking, and environmental catastrophe. These challenges require the development of a common approach and commitment, by those who are present in the region. 

Our economies rely on the free and secure passage of maritime trade through the region. Therefore, we have a fundamental interest in fostering peace and security and ensuring a safe maritime domain for all. An Indian Ocean, Rules Based Order that respects the rights of all states to the freedom of navigation and over-flight, and ensures unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, in line with international laws and regulations, is essential for peace and prosperity in our region and beyond. A stable and secure Ocean order will not only build confidence and predictability among its users but also assist in combating maritime crime and ensuring the safety and security of our Sea Lanes of Communication. 

Sri Lanka’s National Economic Development policies have incorporated the Indian Ocean as a vital component in its Development Plan. The Blue-Green development strategy, outlined by President Sirisena, places the sustainable utilization of ocean resources at its centre. Our aim is to reap the benefits of Blue Economy by adopting environment friendly green development policies.

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen, 

We attach great importance to maritime connectivity. We need to start linking up maritime expertise across the board in the Indian Ocean Region. Our future depends on sharing this wealth of experience and knowledge that will lead to a collective success story.

The challenge that confronts us is to find a structure on how to sustain and promote peace, progress and prosperity in the Indian Ocean Region.

Towards this end, I believe that

-Our economic drive should be matched by a commitment to protecting our environment particularly our oceans, and to manage ocean resources in a sustainable manner in order to ensure healthier oceans and a more prosperous society.

-Our political goals need to be matched by mutual respect and a strong determination to adhere to the laws and rules based systems that govern the seas.

Let us take home a commitment to direct our energy towards a sustainable ocean economy, together with better ocean protection as well as for maintaining peace in our oceans.

I thank you all.

Remarks by Prasad Kariyawasam, Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Panel on Peace in the Indian Ocean Region, Indian Ocean Conference 2017, Colombo: 1st September 2017


Remarks by Prasad Kariyawasam

Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

Panel on Peace in the Indian Ocean Region

Indian Ocean Conference 2017, Colombo: 1st September 2017

Good morning to everyone and a warm welcome to Day 2 of the 2nd Indian Ocean Conference.

Shri S. Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary of India will deliver the Keynote Address of this session on “Peace in the Indian Ocean Region”, followed by three plenary sessions.

The first plenary that will focus on ‘Peace’ will have the Foreign Secretary of Australia Ms. Frances Adamson, Acting US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Ambassador Alice Wells, and Director General for Asia and Pacific of the Foreign Office of Germany, Ms. Ina Lepel.

A few words before I give the floor to Shri Jaishankar.

-First and foremost, I want to congratulate Shri Ram Madhav and the India Foundation, the Bangladesh Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies, and the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies of Singapore for organizing this important Conference in Colombo and for bringing all of you here to our island home.

-You have brought together, important policy makers, strategic thinkers, political leaders and academics from across the region here to Colombo for this important Conference on a subject that will have a determining impact on the future, not only of this region, but the world at large. In fact, having been the High Commissioner for Sri Lanka to India recently for a little over 4 years, I am very happy to welcome and meet again, some of the best minds in India who are here to join us in these deliberations.

-Yesterday evening, at the inauguration, among other important dignitaries, we had the privilege of hearing from the Minister of External Affairs of India, the Foreign Minister of Singapore, the Vice President of Seychelles and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, of their vision for a peaceful, prosperous, and stable Indian Ocean Region.

‘Peace and Stability’ in the Indian Ocean is essential for the development and progress of the Indian Ocean region, and the world at large; and this important subject of ‘Peace’ is the focus of this Plenary Session. As you know, nothing happens in isolation in the globalized world. Anything that happens in this region will have its impact on countries and peoples living far beyond this region. This, we all know to be true.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Indian Ocean is the world’s third largest body of water. Dominated by two immense bays – the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, this region encompasses such a vast diversity of cultures,  peoples, religions, ethnicities, languages, and political systems. This great Indian Ocean was the holder of mysteries and the keeper of secrets for our ancestors, as it still does for us in many ways. This Indian Ocean united people and cultures that lived oceans apart, as the fearless sea-farers of the ancient world traversed the Indian Ocean from Arabia, right across to China, sharing their ideas and philosophies, faiths, and knowledge with people in distant lands, while trading and engaging in sea-based commerce.

This Ocean has brought fame and fortune, tears and grief, conflict and peace, progress and prosperity, to people in the Indian Ocean nations at different times in history. The story of the Indian Ocean continues, and it is now our turn to write its next chapter and chart its course.

Our destiny is in our hands. What will we choose to do? It is our strong belief that we must choose Peace, sincerely, genuinely, and wholeheartedly. We must choose friendship, cooperation, and mutual benefit, shunning adversarial competition and conflict. We must take steps without delay, in the interest of all our people, to put in place a strong, transparent, inter-dependent and rules-based architecture that can secure for our people, the peace and prosperity that will benefit all.

I see no other means to lift the millions that live in our countries out of poverty and conflict, for meaningful prosperity.

The Indian Ocean Peace poses many challenges as well as opportunities in the present day. The Ocean keeps the networks of trading alive, providing livelihood and delivering prosperity to our people. At the same time, it also keeps the networks of terrorism, piracy, drug smuggling, and human trafficking, alive, which requires constant vigilance and action through cooperation, in our common interest.

Our desire is for a system in the Indian Ocean where all countries pursue their territorial claims and pursue their aspirations in accordance with international law.  A system that sees greater cooperation, including on natural disasters, maritime security, and for keeping the sea lanes open and safe. A system that enhances economic connectivity in the entire Indo-Asia-Pacific, ensuring the transfer of goods and services at faster speeds, greater volumes, and especially at lower costs.

Sri Lanka, located right in the middle of the orient, is ready to work with our partners in the region and beyond for this purpose. We seek an inclusive Indian Ocean that is peaceful, stable, and secure. Our Ocean, since time immemorial, not only drew the attention of the rest of the world, but benefitted from its interaction with those living beyond. Exchange of ideas, and goods and services within the region and those from afar, have enriched our lives and continues to do so. Establishing a Peaceful Indian Ocean Region, is essential for the long and short-term wellbeing of our region and the billions of people to whom this region is Home. We need to create conditions, processes and procedures for cooperation so that prosperity in the Indian Ocean Region will not remain just a dream for our people.

90% of the world’s population lives by the sea. As mentioned by many speakers yesterday, the seas remain the primary mode for the international transportation of goods, touching the lives of this large body of people, directly. The Indian Ocean Region is no exception. Statistics with regard to sea-borne transport has also been mentioned in this Conference and elsewhere. Therefore, it is evident that sustaining peace and stability in the Oceans including in the Indian Ocean is essential for peace and stability in the littoral. In this context, the proposal by the Hon. Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, to establish a Code of Conduct in the Indian Ocean, we believe, requires urgent attention. It is a win-win proposal that can create an inclusive architecture. We must think innovatively as to how we can work on this proposal, and the appropriate forum for doing so, with the participation of all stakeholders that live in this region and those connected to this region, from beyond.

I am sure that the discussion to follow will include thoughts and ideas of how we could move forward in this direction.

I now invite Shri S. Jaishanker, Foreign Secretary of India, to deliver the Keynote Address.

Hon Tilak Marapana assumes duties as Minister of Foreign Affairs


Hon. Tilak Marapana, Minister of Development Assignments assumed duties at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Friday 18 August 2017.

Minister Marapana was received by the Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Prasad Kariyawasam and senior staff upon arrival at the Ministry. Following the lighting of the traditional oil lamp and holding of religious observances, the Minister officially assumed duties at the Ministry.

Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana addessed the media following his assumption of duties.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

19 August 2017

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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
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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:

Register with the High Commission

The Sri Lankan High Commission in Canberra would like to keep in touch with Sri Lankans and persons of Sri Lankan origin living in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and other Pacific Islands as well as Sri Lankan community organisations in those countries.

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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