Remarks at bilateral meeting with The Honourable Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka
Prime Minister, welcome to Australia on your first official visit as Prime Minister. And congratulations on your honourary doctorate from Deakin University. It is great to welcome you and Professor Maithree Wickramasinghe here and all of your colleagues.
We have 70 years of diplomatic relations and so many strong ties going much further in history than that.
We also have worked together on so many important issues - combatting the scourge of people smuggling, countering terrorism, determined to ensure we maintain peace and stability in our region. We appreciate the deepening cooperation between our two countries.
We also look forward to stronger economic cooperation and of course we have such a strong Sri Lankan community here in Australia, the most successful multicultural society in the world which Sri Lankan Australians make an enormous contribution to.
Of course, then there is the matter of cricket – that is the one matter on which we are rivalrous. We look forward to an exciting game this evening at Manuka.
Welcome Prime Minister. It is wonderful to have you here in Australia.
PRIME MINISTER WICKREMESINGHE:
Thank you Mr Prime Minister for inviting me and the delegation here to mark the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
Australia is one country of whom we have had very strong relations, not for the last 70 years but for the last century.
With the economic, political same background and culturally.
Our culture now revolves around cricket, but it is also the opportunity for us to build a much stronger relationship to look at how we could work together and work with others in the regions.
Together we should be able to influence outcomes. After all, the first initiative from this region after World War II came from Sri Lanka and Australia – the Colombo Plan.
Now we’ve got to think of a new initiative of how we can work together.
We have no disputes or difficulties among us except when it comes to cricket.
So we’ve learned to live with that and I think the issues that are in this region, within the Indian Ocean and the Asia-Pacific are such that Australia and Sri Lanka will be able to work together.
We have to work together.
We did so during World War II.
We did so after World War II.
And now that the emphasis is returning to Asia, let us work with one objective to create peace and prosperity for all those in not only in our countries but for the all those in the region.