Lanka can help in fighting pirates: Neomal     Follow

Sri Lanka’s experience in eradicating the threat of the Sea Tigers could be of great use in fighting piracy in the Indian Ocean and providing security cover to vessels of the Gulf countries, Deputy Minister of External Affairs Neomal Perera has told the Oman Tribune.

Minister Perera is in Muscat on an official visit from January 14 to 16.

He said that since the decades-long civil war in Sri Lanka had become a thing of the past, his government wanted to build strong ties with neighbouring countries and the GCC nations, which have a sizeable number of Lankan expatriates.

Perera, who held talks with the secretary-General and under secretary of foreign affairs, said that trade between both nations was one of the main points that were discussed. He stressed that Sri Lanka, which would sign an FTA agreement with China soon, had become a gateway to Southeast Asia for the Arab world.

“It is a very good opportunity for any country to use Sri Lanka as a stepping stone to export their commodities, invest or even re-export their goods to the region,” he explained.

Perera said his visit was also aimed at exploring the possibilities of maritime cooperation between the two nations, as Sri Lanka was the only country in the region with a port that could accommodate large vessels up to 16-metre draft.

“Today, Colombo is one of the few ports in the sea route to Southeast Asia that can berth large mother ships. So our nation can be a hub for Gulf countries like Oman to re-export to the region. They can send in their goods to Colombo and we can provide feeder vessel services to other countries in the region,” he said.

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