The Third Round of Senior Officials’ Talks between Sri Lanka and Australia was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Colombo on 17 September 2019.
The Sri Lankan delegation was led by Additional Secretary, Bilateral Affairs (East) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs P. Selvaraj, while the Australian Delegation was headed by First Assistant Secretary, South West Asia Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia Dr. Lachlan Strahan.
The two countries held extensive discussions on strengthening cooperation on key areas across the broad spectrum of relations, including Transnational Organized Crime, Defence, Reconciliation and Human Rights, Development Partnership, Foreign Ministry Cooperation and Regional and Multilateral issues. Both sides agreed to maintain the excellent momentum in the relationship, and underscored their commitment to a rule-based, open and inclusive regional order and to strengthening regional architecture, including the Indian Ocean Rim Association and the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium.
The Third round of Senior Officials’ Talks was preceded by the inaugural session of the Strategic Maritime Dialogue held between Sri Lanka and Australia on 16 September 2019 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Sri Lankan delegation was led by Additional Secretary, Multilateral Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Ahmed A. Jawad, while the Australian delegation was headed by First Assistant Secretary Dr. Lachlan Strahan. The Dialogue underlined the importance of working together on maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean and collaborating on blue economy related initiatives.
The Joint Commission on Bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) between the two countries was also held on 17 September 2019. The TIFA talks co-chaired by Secretary, Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade S.T. Kodikara and First Assistant Secretary Dr. Lachlan Strahan, highlighted the importance of developing stronger trade and investment links.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1947, Sri Lanka and Australia have enjoyed a longstanding bilateral relationship over seven decades, spanning diverse areas of cooperation, including political, economic, development and security spheres.
The Senior Officials’ Talks held biennially is the principal platform between Sri Lanka and Australia to take stock of the existing relations and to discuss avenues for strengthening future cooperation in keeping with policy priorities of the two countries.
The Australian Delegation included High Commissioner of Australia to Sri Lanka David Holly, Assistant Secretary Global Interests, Department of Defence Jarrod Howard, Minister-Counsellor Home Affairs, Australian High Commission in New Delhi Tara Cavanagh, Assistant Director, Sri Lanka/Maldives Section, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Dananthi Galapitage and officials of the Australian High Commission in Colombo. The Sri Lankan delegation was comprised of senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology, Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs, Ministry of Health, Nutrition & Indigenous Medicine, Department of External Resources, Department of Immigration & Emigration and the Prison Headquarters.
The next round of Senior Officials’ Talks will be held in Canberra, Australia in 2021.