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Thumbs up for North and East progress

Australia's Deputy Leader of Opposition tells President Rajapaksa:

Thumbs up for North and East progress

Australia's Deputy Leader of Opposition and Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop told President Mahinda Rajapaksa that she and other delegation members were impressed from what they saw during a tour of the North and East.

"We were impressed by the progress that has been made," Bishop said during a discussion with President Rajapaksa at Temple Trees yesterday. "Your country is to be congratulated."

Bishop said following visits to Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Trincomalee, she felt the resettlement process has largely achieved its aims.

While the reconciliation process has some way to go, "you are very much on the right track," she said.

President Rajapaksa and Bishop also spoke about the problem of illegal immigration. Referring to discussions with the Sri Lanka Navy, members of the delegation said the Navy's rate of interception of people illegally leaving Sri Lankan shores on boats for Australia is "an extraordinary achievement."

"It's a very dangerous journey," Bishop said. "It [people traveling illegally on boats] should be stopped."

While noting that there are proper channels

if people want to travel or migrate to Australia, President Rajapaksa and Bishop agreed that every effort should be made to prevent people from making the illegal trip from Sri Lanka to Australia.

Speaking about the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka later this year, Bishop said: "Australia should attend CHOGM and give you our full support."

Other members of the Australian delegation comprised Scott Morrison, MP Shadow Minister for Productivity and Population Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Michael Keenan, MP Shadow Minister for Justice, Customs and Border Protection, Robyn Mudie, Australia's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Murray Hansen, Chief-of-Staff for Bishop.

External Affairs Minister Prof G L Peiris, External Affairs Deputy Minister Neomal Perera and External Affairs Ministry Secretary Karunatilaka Amunugama were present at the discussion.

Courtesy : Daily News

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