Foreign Minister Ali Sabry concludes his official visit to the United Kingdom
January 30, 2024
Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry concluded his official visit to the United Kingdom on the invitation of the prestigious Cambridge Union and Wilberforce Society of the University of Cambridge. Foreign Minister Sabry addressed the Cambridge Union, the oldest debating society in the world on 23 January and engaged with the academic community in a discussion that touched upon Sri Lanka’s road to economic recovery. Notably, he is the only Sri Lankan to have addressed the Cambridge Union in recent history.
Foreign Minister Ali Sabry addressed the Wilberforce Society and the Lucy Cavendish Finance Society on 24 January, focusing on the accessibility of development finance across South Asia, drawing from his experiences with the IMF debt restructuring process in Sri Lanka. The Foreign Minister delved into the significant role international organisations play in shaping domestic policy-making. The address was followed by a formal dinner hosted by The Wilberforce in honour of Foreign Minister Ali Sabry at Christ’s College. Foreign Minister Sabry also engaged in discussions with the students and academia of the Sri Lanka Society of the University of Cambridge prior to his Wilberforce Society speech.
During the bilateral leg of the visit on 25 and 26 January 2024, Foreign Minister Sabry met with Minister of State (Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, United Nations and the Commonwealth) Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, where the two sides reviewed the multifaceted Sri Lanka-UK relationship and cooperation at multilateral. Minister Sabry apprised the UK side of the progress in the debt restructuring process and thanked UK for its support and cooperation extended towards Sri Lanka as a member of the Paris Club in accelerating the process. Both dignitaries also exchanged views on freedom of navigation and maritime issues.
In addition, Minister Sabry had interactive sessions with the UK Parliamentarians including, Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs The Rt Hon David Lammy, Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Council of Sri Lankan Muslim Organisations UK (COSMOS) Bob Blackman, Chair APPG Foreign Affairs Dr Lisa Cameron and Conservative MP for North Somerset and former Secretary of State for Defence the Rt Hon Liam Fox MP at the Houses of Parliament. During the meetings, Minister Sabry briefed the Parliamentarians on Sri Lanka’s economic progress and current developments in the reconciliation process with specific references to the Anti-Terrorism Bill and establishment of the Interim Secretariat for Truth and Reconciliation Mechanism (ISTRM) and shared insights and international politics. He also chaired a roundtable on Sri Lanka with Chair of the APPG Dr Mathew Offord, on Sri Lanka which was attended by cross party Parliamentarians. The Parliamentarians were appreciative of the opportunity to receive Foreign Minister’s briefing on Sri Lanka’s economic recovery process and reconciliation efforts.
The visit concluded with roundtable discussions the Foreign Minister had with the Sri Lankan Tour Operators organised by the Sri Lankan Airlines and a Business Roundtable organised by the Sri Lanka-UK Chamber of Commerce on enhancing Sri Lanka-UK economic relationship where Minister engaged in an insightful discussion with the representatives of the tourism industry and the business community.
High Commissioner Rohitha Bogollagama and senior officials of the High Commission were associated with the Foreign Minister at the University of Cambridge events and bilateral meetings.
Sri Lanka High Commission
29 January 2024