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Developing closer ties with South India, EU essential – State Minister

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Building closer ties with India, Sri Lanka’s closest ally is one of the primary foreign policy goals, said Foreign Affairs State Minister Tharaka Balasuriya on Thursday.

“Developing closer relations with the five provinces in South India is very vital as well as with the European Union (EU)”, he said.

State Minister was addressing a press conference over ‘Current trends on Sri Lankan Foreign Relations’ at the Government Information Department yesterday.

The State Minister said that fulfilling the promises that Sri Lanka has made with other countries will ensure building trust and strengthen relationships with them. He said these are some of the key areas that the Foreign Ministry is currently focussing on.

Receiving continued support of India in Sri Lankan affairs is very important more than from other countries at this juncture. Engaging with European markets would benefit in improving foreign economic transactions beyond the Indian Sub Continent, South East Asia and Far East, he said.

Speaking on the occasion Rector of the Sripalee Campus of the Colombo University Professor Prathiba Mahanamahewa said that human rights and foreign policy are main areas being looked into. He said that Sri Lanka can even get help from South Africa who conquered apartheid with the leadership of late Nelson Mandela to find success in its Reconciliation Proposal to build National Harmony with other ethnicities who are citizens of the country which will reflect as a massive plus factor about the image of Sri Lanka by the rest of the world.

In order to connect with foreign countries to build economic ties including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) and develop relations with them, Sri Lanka needs the help and support of India essentially, he said. Achieving the GSP+ concession once again from the European Union (EU) recently shows the improvement of Sri Lanka’s credibility, he said.

Building trust and confidence with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) through a Truth Seeking Commission where awareness is created with foreign diplomats and establish political stability within Sri Lanka to show the world are major factors to strengthen foreign relations that are currently focussed on, he said.

Using the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Report towards building and strengthening ethnic harmony and national reconciliation will pave the way towards developing lasting relations with foreign countries including developed and developing countries, Mahanamahewa said.

Developing a 15 – 25 years foreign policy will pave way to creating a positive image of Sri Lanka as a violence and hatred free united country will help strengthen its foreign relations, he added.

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