Australia, Sri Lanka discuss border protection, economy

Canberra, Feb 15 (IANS) Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday discussed in a meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe the border security and economy.

Turnbull on Wednesday met Wickremesinghe to celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations, Xinhua news agency reported.

Aside from signing two new agreements, Turnbull said the two nations would continue to work together to help end the “scourge” of people smuggling.

“The Australian and Sri Lankan navies have a strong and growing relationship with joint exercises and officer training,” Turnbull said.

Wickremesinghe, when questioned about the high number of Sri Lankans who fled the country and attempted to come to Australia illegally by boat, said they were welcome to return despite breaking the law.

“They left Sri Lanka illegally. They are welcome to return and we won’t prosecute them, so they can come back, but they broke the law,” he said.

Turnbull took the opportunity to praise the strong bilateral relation between the two nations, lauding cooperation in a number of sectors.

The agreements signed between the two leaders will see exchanges of athletes, coaches, managers, health professionals, sports scientists and the sharing of anti-doping technology.

“Our close relationship and our many ties are only strengthened by our friendly competition on the cricket pitch, which we agree is the only area in which we are rivals,” Turnbull said.

–IANS

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