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* Sri Lanka, Australia to work together to combat people smuggling
Fri, Dec 14, 2012, 08:45 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Dec 14, Colombo: Further strengthening the bilateral relations Sri Lanka and Australia have decided to establish a Joint Working Group (JWG) on People Smuggling and Transnational Crime during the visit of Australian Foreign Minister of Senator Bob Carr to the island.

Senator Carr is scheduled to arrive in Colombo today on an official visit from December 14-17, 2012.

The Joint Working Group (JWG) will particularly address the current issues of illegal migration, people smuggling and law enforcement, an External Affairs Ministry statement said.

The two Foreign Ministers on 17th December will inaugurate the JWG that will be led by Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship of the Government of Australia Martin Bowles.

During his four-day visit from December 14-17, 2012, Senator Carr will hold talks with Sri Lanka's leadership including the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, External Affairs Minister, Professor G.L. Peiris Minister of Economic Development basil Rajapaksa and the Defence Secretary.

In addition to people smuggling, the talks will cover aid, economic development, and human rights issues, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.

Carr is also scheduled to travel to the Southern Province during his stay in Sri Lanka and observe several Australian aided development projects.

This will be Senator Carr's first visit to the island as Foreign Minister.

Sri Lanka is an important regional partner in the fight against people smuggling. The island's tiny Navy this year alone has prevented nearly 3,000 illegal asylum seekers entering into Australia on more than 60 separate people smuggling ventures.

** Related Story :: Australian Foreign Minister to visit Sri Lanka Friday

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