Turnbull talks border protection, economic development with PM Wickremesinghe | Daily News

Turnbull talks border protection, economic development with PM Wickremesinghe


Aside from signing two new agreements, Turnbull said the two nations would continue to work together to help end the "scourge" of people smuggling.

Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said this on Wednesday when he met with his Sri Lankan counterpart Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

"The Australian and Sri Lankan navies have a strong and growing relationship with joint exercises and officer training," Turnbull said at a press conference in Canberra on Wednesday.

"We also have longstanding, close cooperation aimed at ending the scourge of people smuggling."

PM Wickremesinghe, when questioned about the high number of Sri Lankans who fled the country and attempted to come to Australia illegally by boat, said they were welcome to return despite breaking the law.

"They left Sri Lanka illegally. They are welcome to return to Sri Lanka and we won't prosecute them, so they can come back to Sri Lanka, and we will have them, but they broke the law in attempting to come to Australia," PM Wickremesinghe told the press on Wednesday.

Turnbull also took the opportunity to praise the strong bilateral relationship between the two nations, lauding cooperation in a number of key sectors.

"The Sri-Lankan Australian community has made an enormous contribution to Australia, the most successful multicultural society in the world. In fields as diverse as business, culture, education, law, medicine and sport and they are part of the bedrock on which our bilateral relationship is built," Turnbull said.

"We are also pleased to witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Sri Lanka and Australia to strengthen cooperation in sport."

"This will see exchanges of athletes, coaches, managers, health professionals, sports scientists and the sharing of anti-doping technology."

"Our close relationship and our many ties are only strengthened by our friendly competition on the cricket pitch, which we agreed was the only area in which we are rivalrous."

Premier Wickremesinghe said Sri Lanka had no better friend than Australia, and said in addition to an agreement on sports, the leaders signed a deal regarding economic development as well.

"We signed two important agreements today, one on economic development, but that was not complete without the one on sports. So Sri Lanka and Australia have shared a common past," he said.

"There are many values we inherited from the British empire to which we added our own values, and Australia today is one of the leading members of the Asia-Pacific region."

"When we look to the future, we have no better friend than Australia."


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