FM discusses with Australia to promote SL as education hub

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, during a meeting with the Australian High Commissioner David Holly on Tuesday (13) discussed avenues for consolidating relations between the two countries in multiple spheres to achieve tangible outcomes.

During the meeting, Gunawardena also requested for Australia to consider the early facilitation of Sri Lankan students’ travel to Australia, while welcoming the education cooperation between the two countries and the Australian Government’s current efforts to permit the return of international students to Australia, whose higher studies have been affected due to the ongoing COVID-19 related travel restrictions.

High Commissioner Holly affirmed Australia’s keenness to jointly promote Sri Lanka as an educational hub where international students could obtain Australian qualifications in Sri Lanka. 

Following up on the successful telephone conversation held with the Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne last month, the two sides discussed ways and means to enhance the capacity of the Sri Lankan Marine Protection Authorities to minimize the damage caused by future maritime catastrophes. 

In this regard, Minister Gunawardena extended Sri Lanka’s gratitude for the provision of personal protective equipment and gear to assist the coastal cleaning efforts due to the MV X-Press Pearl disaster.

Australia delivered essential coastal clean-up equipment to the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) to assist Sri Lanka’s response to the MV X-Press Pearl incident on 16 June. The equipment provided included 11,000 coveralls and 1,000 gloves (manufactured in Sri Lanka by Australian company Ansell), and 30,000 facemasks, 200 goggles, 300 pairs of protective footwear and 200 helmets, valued at 20 million Rupees.

It was also agreed to build a broad-based dialogue around the issue of maritime environmental calamities and the importance of curtailing the adverse impacts of such incidents through an international and regional forum such as the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).

Foreign Minister Gunawardena further appreciated Australia’s continuous support to enhance the capability of the public health sector to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and projects implemented under Australian Overseas Development Assistance to bolster the socio-economic development in Sri Lanka.

The two sides also agreed to prioritize convening bilateral consultations between the two countries in the political, economic and maritime sectors as key platforms for deepening and extending the bilateral partnership in keeping with the mutual interests of the countries. 

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