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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 109

Bogollagama urged Australia to b the LTTE

Colombo, 24 July, ( Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Rohita Bogollagama urged Australia to proscribe the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the separatist and terrorist outfit of Sri Lanka. "Such a measure would provide the legal framework for the authorities to take effective action against fund raising and propaganda activities by the LTTE and its fronts operating on Australian soil, he said. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama meets his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith at the ARF in Singapore, on Wednesday, 23rd July 2008.Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama meets his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith at the ARF in Singapore, on Wednesday, 23rd July 2008.

Rohitha Bogollagama, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister arrived in Singapore yesterday morning to participate in the 15th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). On the sidelines of the conference Sri Lanka’s Minister met the Foreign Ministers of number of Asian Countries as well as that of Australia.

During the meeting with his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith, he noted that the Sri Lankan expatriate community in Australia has made a significant contribution towards national development. However, he expressed serious concern over the activities of the LTTE and its front organizations through its influence over certain misguided elements in the Sri Lankan diaspora in Australia.

Citing the ongoing criminal prosecution against three Australians of Sri Lankan origin, on charges relating to raising funds for terrorism as well as the recent arrest of another Australian in Melbourne, at the request of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, as significant steps by Australia to support the global fight against terrorism, Minister Bogollagama urged the Australian government to proscribe the LTTE as a terrorist organization.

With the restoration of democracy to the Eastern Province and the conflict situation being confined to two districts in the Northern Province, Sri Lanka has once again emerged as a safe destination for foreign tourists Bogollagama pointed out. Hence, he emphasized the need to restore air links between the two countries. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith accepted Minister Bogollagama’s invitation to visit Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister also held bilateral discussions with his counterparts from, Myanmar, Laos, South Korea, and the Philippines. These meetings resulted in the consolidation of linkages that have been already established by Sri Lanka since gaining admission to the ARF at the 14th Summit in Manila in August 2007.

At his meeting with the Myanmar Foreign Minister U Nyan Win, Minister Bogollagama shared his views on the benefits of ARF membership for countries in the Asia-Pacific region as a useful platform to discuss defence and security co-operation, as well as matters of mutual concern to member states.

The Myanmar Foreign Minister thanked Sri Lanka for the generous and spontaneous assistance given to the victims of the recent Cyclone Nargis which struck Myanmar. Foreign Minister Bogollagama offered further humanitarian assistance to Myanmar and help to rebuild devastated villages. In response to a query by the Myanmar Foreign Minister, Minister Bogollagama said that there is broad support within the SAARC members for Myanmar’s admission as an Observer State.

Minister Bogollagama apprised the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Thongioun Sisoulith, on the current situation in Sri Lanka and efforts taken by the Government to combat LTTE terrorism. In this context, he emphasized the need to curb LTTE operations in the region, such as money laundering, illicit arms procurement and human trafficking which have far reaching consequences on countries affected by its network. Both sides agreed to take early follow up action to conclude an MOU on defence and intelligence co-operation. The Laotian Deputy Prime Minister gladly accepted Minister Bogollagama’s invitation to visit Sri Lanka at a mutually convenient date.

During the course of the day, Minister Bogollagama had a fruitful discussion with the South Korean Foreign and Trade Minister Yu Myung Hwan on matters of mutual interest. At the outset, the South Korean Minister indicated their intention to actively engage in the SAARC region to develop an effective partnership. He also noted that Sri Lanka has been identified by South Korea as one of the priority countries for economic cooperation. Minister Bogollagama expressed his appreciation for the economic assistance extended by South Korea for Sri Lanka’s socio-economic development in the last three decades.

In particular, he was thankful to the Korean Government for offering lucrative employment opportunities for a large number of Sri Lankans and said that Sri Lanka is keen to send larger number of skilled workers to South Korea for employment. The two sides also discussed the situation in Korean Peninsula among other regional and multi-lateral issues. On the economic front, they explored prospects for promoting Sri Lanka as an attractive destination for investment and tourism from South Korea. In this context, Minister Bogollagama emphasized the need for greater connectivity, through the resumption of direct air services between the two countries, which would enhance people to people contact. An invitation extended to the South Korean President to visit Sri Lanka in 2009 was renewed.

The final bilateral meeting of the day for Foreign Minister Bogollagama was with his Philippine counterpart, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Alberto G. Romulo. They recalled their previous meeting in Manila in August 2007 and reviewed the progress achieved in regard to the signing of an MOU on defence co-operation, Philippine assistance for the establishment of a Coast Guard Unit in Sri Lanka and training of Sri Lankan security forces personnel in the Philippines.

The Philippine Foreign Secretary said that Filipinos had great affection towards the people of Sri Lanka and that he was particularly impressed with Sri Lanka’s natural scenic beauty. Minister Bogollagama briefed his Philippine counterpart extensively on Sri Lanka’s current developments, military action against the LTTE, restoration of democracy and elections in the Eastern Province where civil administration has been established after a lapse of over twenty years.

Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa who was associated at the discussions with the Foreign Minister briefed on the follow-up action taken with regard to the draft MOU on defence co-operation and the concept paper being finalized for the establishment of a Coast Guard Unit in Sri Lanka.

Minister Bogollagama was accompanied by Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Singapore Shehan Ratnavale, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, senior officials from the Foreign Ministry and the Sri Lanka High Commission in Singapore.

Today the Foreign Minister will attend the Ministerial session of the ARF.

- Asian Tribune -

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