Duterte, Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksa vow to strengthen cooperation
The Philippines and Sri Lanka vowed to strengthen their cooperation as they commemorate 60 years of diplomatic ties this year.
The commitment was made during a phone conversation between President Rodrigo Duterte and Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa last June 28, according to a Malacañang statement issued Wednesday.
“Over the last six decades we have pursued fruitful relations. We look forward to sustaining this and exploring further the full potential of our cooperative ties,” the statement quoted President Duterte as saying.
Duterte said the Philippines wants to further strengthen engagement with Sri Lanka in the United Nations on issues of common interest. He also thanked the Sri Lankan government for ensuring the safe return of Filipino seafarers from oil tanker MT New Diamond, which caught fire off the eastern coast of Sri Lanka last year.
The Sri Lankan Navy rescued the ship’s 22 crew members, 17 of whom were Filipinos. They were accommodated in Sri Lanka until their repatriation on September 26, 2020 and October 26, 2020.
Rajapaksa lauded the cooperation and mutual support between the Philippines and Sri Lanka in multilateral venues, including the United Nations Human Rights Council.
“He (Rajapaksa) likewise extended his invitation for President Duterte to visit Sri Lanka, to which the President responded saying that he is looking forward to undertaking such visit when the global situation normalizes,” the statement read.
Duterte and Rajapaksa expressed readiness to explore new opportunities for bilateral cooperation, particularly in security and defense, trade and investment, labor migration, and tourism.
“The two leaders renewed their shared commitment to further enhance cooperation as the Philippines and Sri Lanka commemorate 60 years of diplomatic relations this year,” the statement read.
Duterte and Rajapaksa also agreed that fighting COVID-19 is a “shared responsibility and an opportunity to work in solidarity with all nations.”