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President given grand welcome in Canberra

(UDHAYAM, CANBERRA) – President Maithripala Sirisena arrived in Canberra this morning (24) commencing a three-day State visit on the invitation of the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

He was received by Official Secretary to the Governor-General, Mr. Mark Fraser, Minister of Education, Senator Simon Birmingham and Governor-General’s Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Kelly. Australian High Commissioner of Sri Lanka Bryce Hutchisson and Sri Lanka High Commissioner Somasundaram Skandakumar and the staff of the High Commission were also present.

Senator Birmingham welcomed the President and said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is looking forward to discuss bilateral relations with the President and seek his views for further expansion of cooperation.

During this visit, President Sirisena is scheduled to meet with the Australian Prime Minister and will also hold several other high level bilateral meetings. The two leaders will explore the possibilities of promoting bilateral trade, agriculture, and security between the two countries.

During this visit of the President, the Government of Sri Lanka will enter into several bilateral agreements with Australia, strengthening economic and scientific cooperation between the two countries.

This invitation is a boost to Sri Lanka’s middle-path foreign policy under the leadership of the President Maithripala Sirisena, High Commissioner said.

A delegation including Minister John Amaratunga, Deputy Ministers Harsha de Silva, Ajith P. Perera, and Member of Parliament (MP) Harshana Rajakaruna, President’s Public Relations Director-General Shantha Bandara accompanied the President on this tour.

Sri Lankan High Commissioner Somasundaram Skandakumar said that the fact that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull invited our President for a state visit proves the new high in our long-standing friendship. Australia is a leading member of the Colombo Plan under which several programmes have been launched for the development of the education sector.

In the new areas of corporation, Australia is looking at investments in Mining Sector, Hospitality, Dairy Industry and Agriculture. The High Commissioner said that the President, who also holds the Cabinet portfolio of Environment, will be visiting the National Arboretum in Canberra, where he would plant a sapling of Mahogany (Toona Ciliata). The President is also scheduled to visit the ANU-CSIRO Centre for Genomics, Metabolomics and Bioinformatics where excellent research has been done on development of food crops.

Sri Lanka and Australia actively cooperate in curbing of human smuggling and prevention of maritime piracy.

The President is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Defence Minister Marise Payne and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton.

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