Mar 15, Colombo: Sri Lanka and Republic of Korea, which are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year, discussed strengthening the bilateral relationship between the two countries and agreed to consult and cooperate on issues of mutual interest including regional security.
Bilateral discussions were held between the visiting Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, Yun Byung-se and the Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera today in Colombo.
Issuing a statement following the meeting, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said many activities are planned by the two countries to mark 40 years of diplomatic relations this year, which included the official launch of the 40th anniversary logo today.
The two ministers held discussions on ways and means of further enhancing our bilateral cooperation in areas of mutual interest, including political relations, economic cooperation, development cooperation, labor relations, defense and cultural cooperation, as well as cooperation in regional and multilateral fora, the statement said.
Particular attention was paid to ways and means of further strengthening the bilateral trade and investment partnership, given the potential and Sri Lanka's location advantage. Ongoing collaboration on the Megapolis and Western Development Plan was also discussed.
The two sides also discussed the situation in the Korean peninsula and regional security issues. Minister Samaraweera taking the opportunity called upon DPRK (North Korea) to abide by its international obligations, ensuring a conducive environment for peace and security in the Korean peninsula.
Agreeing to consult and cooperate on issues of mutual interest, Minister Samaraweera apprised Foreign Minister Yun on Sri Lanka's ongoing process of reconciliation.
The Ministers welcomed the early conduct of the next round of Policy Consultations between the two Foreign Ministries in Colombo.
Minister Samaraweera expressed appreciation for Korean development assistance with grant and loan assistance offered through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Korea Exim Bank Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF), which form an important dimension of the bilateral relationship.
He expressed gratitude to the Korean government for its decision to increase the EDFC development assistance from the existing 300 million dollars to 500 million dollars over the next three years and its generous gesture of 200,000 dollars humanitarian assistance in kind for the drought relief.
Expressing Sri Lanka's deep appreciation to the Korean Government for employment opportunities granted to Sri Lankan migrant workers under the Employment Permit System (EPS), which makes a significant contribution to the respective economies of the two countries, Minister Samaraweera discussed ways and means of further strengthening the labor cooperation to provide even greater opportunities for Sri Lankan workers.
He welcomed the opportunities extended by the Korean Government to Sri Lankan students in the field of higher education, including through the provision of scholarships, and discussed ways of further expanding cooperation in this sphere.
Following the discussions, the two side signed a MoU on Cooperation between the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka (BIDTI) and the Korean National Diplomatic Academy (KNDA) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea. The MOU opens a new chapter of mutual cooperation between the two diplomatic academies in training respective diplomats.
Foreign Minister Yun will pay courtesy call on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe this morning and President Maithripala Sirisena later today.