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Australia says Sri Lanka best partner in tackling people smuggling

(UTV|COLOMBO) – While claiming that Sri Lanka is perhaps Australia’s strongest partner in tackling maritime people smuggling, Australia today said it will gift three Port Class vessels to the Sri Lankan Coast Guard later this year.

Australian High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson said every people smuggling boat that has departed Sri Lanka attempting to reach Australia has failed in the last four years.

He expressed these views at a ceremony held in Galle on Wednesday (14) in which Australia gifted two Bay Class Vessel engines to the Sri Lankan Navy.

In a statement, the High Commission said both engines have been installed in SLNS Mihikatha, one of two Bay Class Vessels gifted by the Australian Government in 2014 to bolster the Sri Lankan Navy’s maritime security capability.

High Commissioner Hutchesson said the engines and vessels are a tangible example of Australia’s commitment to working cooperatively with Sri Lanka on a range of maritime threats.

The High Commissioner and Rear Admiral Piyal de Silva presided over the ceremony.

Both commended the close and longstanding relationship between Australia and Sri Lanka on people smuggling, transnational crime and sea and maritime search and rescue.

Australia provides ongoing technical support for these vessels and to the Sri Lankan Navy through training, gifting of equipment and information sharing, the statement said.

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