Media statement

02 March 2015

Deputy Minister Mfeketo concludes Working Visit to Sri Lanka

Department of International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Nomaindiya Mfeketo has on 27 February 2015, concluded a successful working visit to Sri Lanka.

Deputy Minister Mfeketo paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and met with her counterpart Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera, Senior Government officials, Opposition and Political parties, as well as Civil Society.

The Sri Lankan Government had invited Deputy President Ramaphosa and Special Envoy to Sri Lanka, to send an advance team comprising of political and technical experts to develop a roadmap on an organic domestic mechanism as envisaged by the Government of Sri Lanka.

Deputy Minister Mfeketo shared South Africa’s experience of truth-telling, accountability, reconciliation, reparation for victims, meaningful memorialization, healing of memories and nation- building in a workshop setting with Sri Lankan legal experts and civil society. South Africa encouraged all parties to develop their own organic model for their accountability and reconciliation process.

Sri Lankan Government, Opposition, political parties and Civil Society expressed confidence in South Africa’s ability to assist the Sri Lankan people through this process because of its own experience.  Both parties urged South Africa to continue to engage and assist Sri Lanka to overcome its challenges on nation-building. It was emphasised during the workshop that, the people of Sri Lanka are committed to a unitary state which acknowledges the diversity of the country and their strength. South Africa agreed to continue engaging all stakeholders to come to terms with the past and pave way to reconciliation.

Whilst in Sri Lanka, Deputy Minister Mfeketo also participated in the fifth Session of the South Africa- Sri Lanka Partnership Forum, held on 24 February 2015 in Colombo.

The Partnership Forum reviewed progress in bilateral relations between the two countries in a number of technical areas like trade and economic relations, transport, agriculture, justice, education, police and defence cooperation and people to people contact.

Two bilateral agreements were signed during the meeting namely a Declaration of Intent in the field of sustainable tourism development between the two respective tourism departments, as well as a Memorandum of Understanding between the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa and the Department of National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka. These instruments will not only lead to closer cooperation in the fields of sustainable tourism development, but will also provide for the establishment of mutually beneficial relations between the two main zoos in both countries.  

Both countries have agreed that trade and economic interaction will be stepped up through the hosting of a joint South Africa-Sri Lanka CEO Forum at the South African International Trade Exhibition (SAITEX) in May 2015 in Johannesburg. A joint trade complementarity study will also be carried out.

The importance of private sector involvement to further develop and strengthen economic and trade linkages was emphasised.  Areas of potential economic cooperation between the two countries are agro-processing, mineral beneficiation, aquaculture, IT services, ship repair and boat building, and the manufacturing of automobile spare parts.

Both Leaders of delegation also exchanged information on developments within their respective sub-regions and regional organizations such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), as well as the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Both countries are also members of, and closely cooperate in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) while Sri Lanka provided a briefing on Sri Lanka’s role as Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth.

The Sri Lankan delegation accepted South Africa’s invitation to convene the 6th Session of the South Africa-Sri Lanka Partnership Forum in 2016/17 in South Africa.

Enquiries: Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for DIRCO on 082 884 5974

ISSUED BY DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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