Jan 07, Colombo: Sri Lanka and Canada have agreed to cooperate on curbing the illegal migration of Tamils seeking economic opportunities in that country.
During a discussion between the External Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka Professor G. L. Peiris and Canada's Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney held Sunday, the two Ministers discussed ways of addressing the challenges posed by illegal migration.
The two Ministers have also agreed on the need for closer cooperation to increase bilateral trade, investment and tourism and the need for frequent exchange of high level visits, the External Affairs Ministry said Monday.
The visiting Minister has apprised Minister Peiris on the stringent measures Canada has adopted to curb illegal migration and the Sri Lankan Minister has assured government's fullest cooperation to Canada to deter human smuggling operations.
Canada and Australia are most preferable destinations for Tamil migrants of Sri Lanka.
Minister Peiris has briefed the Canadian minister on Sri Lanka's post-conflict progress on development and reconciliation and underscored the need for more time and space to address more complex post conflict issues such as devolution which needs wide consultations with other political parties.
Minister Peiris has also extended an invitation to the Canadian Foreign Minister to visit Sri Lanka for a firsthand look on the progress in the country's conflict-affected areas.
Prof. Peiris has also briefed the Canadian Minister on the arrangements for the Commonwealth Heads of State Summit in Sri Lanka in November this year.
Minister Kenney, while noting that Canadian Government's proscription of the LTTE in 2006 had helped to curb the flow of funds for terrorism in Sri Lanka, has said that his government has continued to take stringent action against LTTE activists operating in that country and assured of their continued cooperation in the future.
Canada as the country with the largest Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora community was eager to see rapid progress in Sri Lanka on all fronts, the Visiting Minister has said.
Addressing media following the meeting, Minister Kenney has said Canada believes that among the many factors motivating the Sri Lankan Tamils to seek asylum in Canada, economic opportunity may be one of the most compelling factor.
However, the he has expressed concern over the human rights violations and lack of progress in political reconciliation saying that those could also be adding to the pressure for the Tamils to leave.
"We are also very concerned that in this post-war environment there appears to be growing pressure for emigration from Sri Lanka, whether to Australia, to Canada or elsewhere due to push factors in this country," Kenney has said expressing "profound concern over human rights violations and lack of progress in political reconciliation in the field of accountability for crimes that have been committed at the end of the war."