Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera concluded an official visit to the United Kingdom on 13th of January 2017. This was the first high level visit undertaken by Sri Lanka since the formation of the government of Prime Minister Theresa May. Minister Samaraweera held bilateral discussions with the Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson and Baroness Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, and also made the first speech of the New Year at the prestigious Chatham House in London.
Minister Samaraweera briefed the Foreign Secretary on the three pillared approach of the Maithripala Sirisena administration in laying a foundation for a new Sri Lanka, and the impressive strides made in the area of democratisation and reconciliation. The ministers also discussed about forging closer ties in the areas of trade and investment.
The Minister also extended an invitation to the UK Foreign Secretary to visit Sri Lanka at the earliest opportunity.
Foreign Minister also called on the Commonwealth secretary general Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland, at the Commonwealth Secretariat at Marlborough House. At the meeting comprehensive discussions were held on several issues. These included expanding trade ties among Commonwealth countries through mutually beneficial trading arrangements and gender empowerment with the use of digital technology. The important role Cricket could play in fostering greater social harmony and cooperation among the Commonwealth community was also discussed.
The session at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) was chaired by Professor Jonathan Goodhand of the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London, and Minister Samaraweera spoke about the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka. The address was followed by a vibrant Q&A session with an audience that comprised of Peers, Members of Parliament, academics, diplomats, media representatives and Civil Society members.
Minister Samarawera also met several key members of the House of Lords, and Sri Lankan diaspora groups to discuss ways the latter could contribute actively to Sri Lanka’s development process.
Sri Lanka High Commissioner to the United Kingdom H.E. Amari Wijewardene and other senior members of the High Commission along with Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ms. Dhammika Semasinghe accompanied the Minister to these discussions.