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Sri Lanka and Australia in talks over energy, agriculture, maritime security

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka and Australia has discussed co-operation in energy, agriculture, mining and education during talks during a state visit of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told a joint press conference that Australian education institutions had established links with Sri Lanka which was aspiring to be an education hub in South Asia. About 7,500 Sri Lankan students were also studying in Australia at present. Sri Lanka and Australia were also committed to making the Indian Ocean free for navigation.

Australia’s ability to support Sri Lanka’s energy sector as the country planned to boost economic growth was discussed, the statement said.

“Attention was also placed on maritime security and defence,” the statement said. The two countries had discussed opportunities in energy, mining, agriculture and tourism. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe spurned Australian gaming billionaire James Packer soon after coming to power in 2015 asking him not to come to Sri Lanka in this ‘lifetime’.

He had also criticized then Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot saying Australia was silent on human rights abuses by the Rajapaksa administration in return for stopping boat people coming from the island. But the relationship between the two countries are not damaged, Wickremesinghe said. Sri Lanka and Australia had established diplomatic relations 70 years ago.

Wickremsinghe’s visit is the first by a Sri Lankan Prime Minister after John Kothelawala visited the country in 1954.

Sri Lanka has invited Prime Minister Turnbull to visit the island. (Colombo/Feb15/2017)

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