Focus on Africa yielding tangible results
Cabinet nod for diplomatic ties with 15 African
Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central
African Republic, Chad, Cote d’ Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea,
Gabon, Gambia, Malawi, Mauritania, Niger, Sierra Leone, Togo
The government’s focus on enhancing relations with countries in the
African continent is bringing tangible results. In a comprehensive
review of foreign policy, the government decided that current priorities
need to be reflected in greater attention being paid to the country’s
relations with regions which had been comparatively neglected over the
This is now amply reciprocated by countries in the African region
which are engaging vigorously with Sri Lanka, especially in matters
relating to investment, trade, tourism and other economic issues.
President of the Republic of Seychelles James Alix Michel was due to
arrive in the country yesterday.
This was preceded by a visit to Sri Lanka two months ago by Minister
of Foreign Affairs of Seychelles Jean-Paul Adam. Extensive co-operation
will take place between the two countries in the fields of fisheries,
maritime security, boat building, tourism and hydro-power. President
Alix Michel will have bilateral discussions with President Mahinda
Arrangements are now being made for the opening of a Resident Mission
of Nigeria in Colombo very shortly. Nigeria’s High Commissioner
designate to Sri Lanka, Oyebola Kuku arrived here recently and met
senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs with a view to
finalizing logistical arrangements for the establishment of the Mission.
Nigeria, with a population of 160 million, is one of the strongest
economies in Africa. A Sri Lankan Mission will be opened in Abuja,
Nigeria, this year.
Two months ago, the Cabinet of Ministers approved a proposal by
External Affairs Minister, Professor G.L. Peiris for the establishment
of diplomatic relations with fifteen countries in Africa. The countries
are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad,
Cote d’ Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Malawi,
Mauritania, Niger, Sierra Leone and Togo. A delegation from South Africa
was in Colombo last week.
This delegation was led by South Africa’s Deputy Minister for
International Cooperation Ebrahim Ebrahim and Roelff Meyer, former
Minister of Defence and later Minister of Constitutional Affairs under
President Nelson Mandela.
The purpose of this visit was to exchange insights and experiences in
a continuing time-frame. There have been many such visits between Sri
Lanka and South Africa in recent years.
It is entirely incorrect that there was any reference to mediation or
facilitation by the South African delegation. Mediation or facilitation,
in any form, was neither offered by South Africa, nor suggested or
accepted by Sri Lanka. This subject formed no part of their discussion
with the government, and speculation to the contrary is totally without
foundation. South Africa, with its considerable influence in
international fora, maintains a friendly and fruitful dialogue with Sri
Lanka, based on the experiences and challenges in both countries.