- Outlines recent developments
- Govt. hopes gradual return to economic activities as over 70% of total population is fully vaccinated
- Calls on the world to support SL in its tourism resumption efforts
- Underscores importance of continuation of GSP+ as vital for Sri Lanka
- Updates on key meetings held with foreign missions – UN, EU
Several Ambassadors and High Commissioners called on the Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris at the Foreign Ministry yesterday.
This was the first time the foreign envoys had met Prof. Peiris in a collective meeting since the latter took office as the new Foreign Minister. The key objective of the meeting was to brief the diplomatic community on recent developments of interest to them.
Peiris said the COVID-19 situation in the country had improved following a very successful vaccination effort.
“Over 70% of the population has now been fully vaccinated, allowing for the gradual opening up of the country,” he added.
The Minister called on the cooperation of the foreign envoys to resume tourism and economic activities.
Peiris expressed his appreciation to the diplomats for their support and assistance during the COVID-19 crisis, including to all UN agencies as well as donors and Colombo-based multilateral financial institutions.
The Minister also briefed on his recent overseas engagements, including at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva and during his visit to New York.
He said at the UN General Assembly, Sri Lanka stood in solidarity with global efforts to address pressing issues which required a collective approach from all countries, big and small.
The next major international engagement will be the COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland, where the Minister will accompany President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Sri Lanka, as a climate vulnerable country, will further reiterate its commitments in this regard.
The Minister also recalled his statement to the 48th session of the UNHRC following the presentation of the oral update on Sri Lanka by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, where he outlined Sri Lanka’s ongoing cooperation with the Council and the progress made on reconciliation and human rights through domestic institutions.
Peiris asserted that Sri Lanka is open in acknowledging the challenges faced and will engage in candid discussions in this regard, both domestically with representatives of civil society and international partners, including the UN. However, he said Sri Lanka rejects the establishment of an external mechanism when domestic processes are ongoing.
The Minister also shared information relating to progress on the process of Constitutional reform and the Provincial Council elections.
In addition, he referred to the recent visits from the European Union (EU), in the context of the Joint Commission and to review the implementation of the GSP+.
The Minister said the discussions were held in a cordial manner and EU officials took note of outstanding matters. Peiris underscored that the continuation of GSP+ was vital for the Sri Lankan economy, not only in the apparel sector, but also in other areas of bilateral trade.
Reiterating Sri Lanka’s commitment and efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he called on for support from foreign envoys and all international partners to improve the living standards of the Sri Lankan people, adding that COVID-19 dealt a significant blow to Government plans.
The members of the diplomatic community also commended the Minister for his engagement and opportunity provided to engage on issues of interest to them.
Peiris also said that he intends to have regular interactions with the foreign envoys.