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* Australia appreciates Sri Lanka's role in combating people smuggling
Wed, May 7, 2014, 07:37 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

May 07, Colombo: Australia has appreciated Sri Lanka's role in combating people smuggling to that country through the sea route and other illegal activities.

Australia's Defence Minister Senator David Johnston appreciated Sri Lanka's efforts in combating illegal maritime activities including smuggling of illegal migrants at a meeting with Sri Lanka's Minister of External Affairs Professor G L Peiris in Parliament in Canberra on Tuesday.

Senator Johnston has underlined Australia's resolve to work closely with Sri Lanka in this area during the meeting, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement today.

The two Ministers discussing the work of the Joint Working Group declared their satisfaction with the progress made and considered the priorities for the future.

Professor Peiris explained to the Australian Defence Minister the government's plans to develop Sri Lanka as a hub for shipping and aviation, and gave an account of developments in the country after the establishment of peace and stability.

He thanked the Australian government for the gift of a coast guard vessel which has enhanced Sri Lanka's capability in this regard. The Bay Class Petrol vessel has already arrived in Sri Lanka. A second vessel of the same type, also a gift by Australia, will arrive in the country in June.

The Ministers noted the exceptional strength of the defence relationship between the two countries and considered avenues for further development.

During his visit Minister Peiris also interacted with Mr. Scott Morrison, Australia's Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.

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