Australian Prime Minister, Hon. Tony Abbott commended the Sri Lanka Navy’s efforts in preventing people smuggling and pledged the gift of two patrol vessels as a capacity enhancement measure. He expressed these views after a high-level meeting held onboard Sri Lanka Navy’s Flag Ship Sayura at the Port of Colombo on 17th November 2013.
The high-level event symbolized the commitment of the key partners in combating people smuggling and it was attended by Minister of External Affairs, Hon. Prof. G.L. Peiris and Minister of Justice, Hon. Rauff Hakeem, Secretary of Defence, Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Jayanath Colombage. Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake, Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Harsha Abeywickrama, Inspector General of Police N.K. Illangakoon and Director General of the Sri Lanka Coast Guard, Rear Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne were also among the high ranking officials that were present.
The Australian Prime Minister explained the bilateral cooperation that exists between the two governments on preventing people smuggling and expressed his appreciation of the commitment shown by SLN personnel in saving many lives at sea.
The Australian Prime Minister, who is in Sri Lanka to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, stated that it is an honour to be onboard a fine ship of the Sri Lanka Navy and the fully furbished Bay-class patrol boats Australia gifting will substantially augment the SLN’s capacity as they are able to cover a large area of the Indian Ocean and serve Sri Lanka’s Search and Rescue Area more effectively. It is a token of the friendship that exists between Australia and Sri Lanka as well as a sign of the ongoing willingness of both countries in cooperating with each other, he further noted.
The Commander of the Navy while thanking the Australian Prime Minister for his gracious presence on the SLN ship expressed his gratitude to the Prime Minister for his generosity in providing two vessels to SLN to be used against people smuggling and to prevent maritime crimes. He also expressed his appreciation of the cooperation shown by the Australian Government and its High Commission in Colombo in this regard.
Press Release, November 18, 2013; Image: Sri Lanka Navy