President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s recent visit to Uganda has significantly contributed to strengthening diplomatic ties with African nations that have previously been overlooked in Sri Lanka’s foreign relations. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry PC, highlighted the importance of these engagements, emphasizing the sizable population of approximately 1.3 billion in these African countries and the anticipated rapid development in the future.
In his special statement today (20), Minister Ali Sabry pointed out that President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s ‘Look Africa’ initiative has laid the groundwork for Sri Lanka to invest in African nations, marking the commencement of a new economic journey for the country.
In a special statement on the official visit to Uganda, where President Wickremesinghe participated in the 19th Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement and the G77+China Summit, Minister Ali Sabry reiterated the significance of broadening Sri Lanka’s engagement with Africa.
“Addressing the Non-Aligned Nations Conference yesterday, President Ranil Wickremesinghe touched upon global issues, particularly focusing on events in the Gaza Strip, Israel-Palestine, the future steps for developing countries, and strategies for alleviating the burden of debt and addressing climate change.
The President shared his perspectives on a range of topics.
Foreign leaders and ministers I engaged with expressed their commendation for President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s insightful speech. Simultaneously, the President engaged in discussions with several leaders from the Global South, specifically in the African region.
Notable meetings included talks with the President of Uganda, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, the Vice President of the Republic of Benin, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of India. The discussions centred on enhancing bilateral relations between these nations and Sri Lanka.
I am optimistic that this visit will fortify relations with African countries that are often overlooked, despite their substantial population of 1.3 billion, and are projected to undergo rapid development in the future. The economic progress witnessed in Sri Lanka under President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s leadership, along with the President’s pivotal role, garnered appreciation from all counterparts.
Reflecting on the past year and a half since President Wickremesinghe assumed office, there has been widespread acclaim for the notable advancements Sri Lanka has achieved. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni specifically lauded President Ranil Wickremesinghe for contributing to the reconstruction of the nation.
Additionally, the Non-Aligned Nations Summits provided a platform to present the current situation in Sri Lanka to the international community. This visit by the President has played a crucial role in fostering bilateral relations with numerous countries in the African region.
Furthermore, it’s noteworthy that President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s ‘Look Africa’ initiative has laid the groundwork for investing in African countries, marking the commencement of a new economic chapter for Sri Lanka. A notable example is the arrangement with the Republic of Benin, wherein mutual benefits are expected through the visa exemption for holders of diplomatic, official, and service passports from both countries.
As the Foreign Minister, I seized the opportunity to engage in bilateral discussions with counterparts from Bangladesh, Bahrain, Ghana, Tanzania, Azerbaijan, and others. These dialogues have been instrumental in strengthening friendships and fostering economic ties with these nations.
Hence, through participation in such summits, our country aspires to further enhance bilateral relations with international partners and reap substantial benefits for the nation.”
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