Colombo, Jul 29 (EFE).- France’s President Emmanuel Macron, during a short visit to Sri Lanka, held bilateral discussions with his counterpart, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and pledged assistance to the country’s battered economy, according to official sources Saturday.
During the discussions, which took place on Friday, Macron reaffirmed his “willingness” and “commitment” towards Sri Lanka’s economic recovery.
“Sri Lanka and France are two nations in the Indian Ocean sharing the same goal: an open, inclusive and prosperous indo-pacific. In Colombo we confirmed it: strong as in our 75 years of diplomatic relations, we would open a new era to our partnership,” Macron tweeted Saturday.
According to a statement by Wickremesinghe’s Media Division, specific areas for collaboration between the two nations have been identified to commemorate the 75 th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
“These areas of cooperation included the establishment of a school for maritime safety and security, the opening of a permanent office for the French Agency for Development (AFD) in Sri Lanka,” the statement read.
Moreover, it also included “the initiation of high-level diplomatic dialogues, cooperation in the education sector, and the enhancement of efforts to combat human trafficking in the maritime safety and security sector,” it added.
Macron has also expressed interest in working with Sri Lanka during its chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Rim Association.
Macron was accompanied by a delegation that included French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna; Ambassador of France in Sri Lanka and Maldives, Jean-Francoise Pactet; Advisors to the French President, Fabien Mandon, Walid Fouque and Josue Serres.
On the other hand, the Sri Lankan delegation was represented by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Sabri; the Senior Advisor to the President on National security and Chief of Staff, Sagala Ratnayaka; Secretary to the President, Saman Ekanayake; Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardane; and Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe, among others.
Macron’s visit, the first by a French President to the island nation, came after a five-day official trip to the South Pacific.
France is the fourth-largest creditor to Sri Lanka, a country that is seeking an international bailout following an acute economic crisis that led to widespread protests that forced President Mahinda Rajapaksa to step down and flee the island. EFE