Sri Lanka Foreign Minister meets with Russian ambassador, seeks to enhance relations

This year marks the 65th anniversary since the establishment of a diplomatic relationship between the two nations

File photo
File photo


Published: Mon 1 Aug 2022, 6:56 AM

Last updated: Mon 1 Aug 2022, 7:20 AM

In order to enhance ties with Russia, the newly appointed Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry met with the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Sri Lanka, Yury Materiy, on Sunday.

Sabry expressed his deep appreciation for Russia's support towards Sri Lanka in bilateral and multilateral fora.

He also expressed confidence in further consolidation of cooperation, with particular attention to enhancing business ties, tourism and connectivity, Colombo Gazette reported.

Materiy congratulated the new Foreign Minister on his appointment, and handed over a message of felicitation from the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov— addressed to Sabry, Lavrov's counterpart.

The Deputy Head of Mission of the Russian Embassy in Colombo and senior officials of the Foreign Ministry were also present at the meeting.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin, while congratulating Wickremesinghe on his election as the head of the country, had said that the Russian-Sri Lankan relations were of a traditionally friendly nature, and Russia looked forward to developing constructive bilateral cooperation in various spheres for the benefit of the people, as well as in the interest of strengthening regional stability and security.

Amidst the crippling fuel shortage in the country, Gotabaya Rajapaksa— the former President of Sri Lanka— had sought credit support to import fuel to the island nation, in a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The two leaders had discussed matters of bilateral trade and economic cooperation between the two countries in several key sectors— especially energy, agriculture and transport— even as Colombo negotiated a support package with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Following this, Rajapaksa had thanked Putin for all the support offered by his government to overcome the challenges of the past.

Notably, this year marks the 65th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Sri Lanka. The leaders confirmed their commitment to developing further friendly bilateral ties, in this regard, and agreed to continue contacts at various levels.

Meanwhile, since the beginning of 2022, Sri Lanka has experienced an escalating economic crisis and the government has defaulted on its foreign loans. The United Nations warned that 5.7 million people "require immediate humanitarian assistance".

With many Sri Lankans experiencing extreme shortages of essentials, such as food and fuel, peaceful protests began in March. These protests led the then-Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to resign on May 9, and his brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to flee the country on July 13 and resign the following day.

Wickremasinghe became acting president, and the Parliament elected him as the new President on July 20 this year, with the support of the Rajapaksas' political party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna.

He had previously described some protesters as "fascists", and had declared a state of emergency on July 18.


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