Australian Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Tim Watts, MP, said today that he would travel to Sri Lanka, an important partner for Australia in the Indian Ocean region.

Australia’s prosperity and security are intimately tied to the Indian Ocean. he said.

He also said, “We have a strong interest in an Indian Ocean region that is peaceful, stable, and prosperous, where countries in the region can cooperate, trade, and thrive.

While in Sri Lanka, I will represent Australia at the 23rd meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers. We will discuss maritime safety and security, the blue economy, climate change, and the IORA Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.

At this meeting, Sri Lanka will take up the IORA Chair for the next two years. Australia looks forward to supporting Sri Lanka throughout its term as chair.

Australia and Sri Lanka share enduring business, education, development, sporting, and cultural links. We also share close people-to-people links, with over 130,000 people of Sri Lankan heritage contributing to the vibrancy of modern Australia.

While in Sri Lanka, I will also renew a sports cooperation memorandum of understanding. Sport is a great passion that links our countries.

Our growing economic ties with Sri Lanka will be enhanced through the signing of a renewed Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement, which will also support economic recovery.

Our development programme is assisting Sri Lanka’s inclusive economic growth in sectors such as agriculture, aquaculture, and tourism.

I will also discuss with my Sri Lankan counterparts how we can work together to meet shared challenges like climate change and transnational crime”.