The good offices of New Zealand, a major supporter of UN peacekeeping operations, to increase Sri Lanka’s contribution to these operations and greater engagement with New Zealand to expand the scope for Sri Lanka’s involvement in this area were discussed at the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the two countries in Auckland on Thursday, 8th May 2014.
External Affairs Minister Professor G L Peiris held bilateral discussions with Mr Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Sports, at the Foreign Ministry in Auckland, during his official visit to New Zealand.
The Sri Lankan Minister expressed a wish to explore New Zealand’s excellent technology in the production of geothermal energy for power generation. As Sri Lanka seeks to diversify its energy sources and become less dependent on fossil fuels, it was suggested that this could be one option that could lead to a productive partnership with New Zealand.
The Ministers agreed that both countries would benefit from joint ventures in the dairy sector. Minister McCully said that New Zealand is happy to share with Sri Lanka their cutting edge technology in diary development. The two countries agreed to develop partnerships in dairy sector co-operation, including academic exchanges in the areas of animal husbandry, food safety and international standards in relation to dairy products. Minister Peiris welcomed the intention of Minister McCully to visit Sri Lanka later this year with a business delegation to promote the Cricket World Cup. He encouraged New Zealand to explore the possibility of using Sri Lanka as a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) destination. He said that, with the highest number of CIMA graduates outside the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka is an ideal location for BPO operations in accounting, as well as an appropriate destination for software development and outsourcing in the Information Technology sector.
Minister Peiris recalled with appreciation the three recent visits to Sri Lanka by Foreign Minister McCully and the active participation by New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key in the Commonwealth Summit held in Colombo in November last year. He thanked the government of New Zealand for refraining from co-sponsoring the Resolution on Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council this year. He explained to his New Zealand counterpart the background to the recent action taken by Sri Lanka against terrorist financing and related activities.
Professor Peiris thanked New Zealand for its assistance in finalizing Sri Lanka’s claims to the Continental Shelf – a matter of considerable importance for the economic development of Sri Lanka.
The discussions between the two Ministers included a focus on people to people contacts. They welcomed the establishment of the New Zealand – Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Group and highlighted the importance of such institutions in strengthening not only inter – Parliamentary relations but also bilateral ties.
In the field of co-operation in sports, Minister Peiris requested assistance in developing Rugby in Sri Lanka. It was suggested that this could be in the form of exchange of coaches and slots for Sri Lankan national players in training programmes in New Zealand.