Rody promises Sri Lanka visit once COVID-19 pandemic ends

posted June 30, 2021 at 10:40 pm
byVito Barcelo

President Rodrigo Duterte will visit Sri Lanka once the global pandemic situation has improved, the Palace said Wednesday.

The Palace said that Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa invited Duterte during a phone conversation on June 28 while discussing ways to boost bilateral cooperation on trade, defense, and tourism.

Sri Lanka, however, is currently one of seven countries that the Philippines has imposed a travel ban on to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

“President Rajapaksa extended deepest appreciation for the cooperation and mutual support between Sri Lanka and the Philippines in multilateral venues, including at the United Nations Human Rights,” the Palace said.

“He 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,” it said.

“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,” Duterte said.

“The President thanked the Sri Lankan government for its assistance in the repatriation of Filipinos amid this pandemic and for the safe return of Filipino seafarers in the MT New Diamond that caught fire off the eastern coast of Sri Lanka in September 2020,” the Palace said.

“They also agreed that combatting COVID-19 is a shared responsibility and an opportunity to work in solidarity with all nations,” the Palace added.

During the phone call, the two leaders renewed their shared commitment to further enhance cooperation as the two countries commemorate 60 years of diplomatic relations this year.

“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,” Duterte was quoted as saying.

He conveyed the Philippine government’s interest to further strengthen engagement with Sri Lanka in the United Nations on issues of common interest.

Duterte also thanked the Sri Lankan government for its assistance in the repatriation of Filipinos amid the pandemic and for the safe return of Filipino seafarers in the MT New Diamond that caught fire off the eastern coast of Sri Lanka in September last year.

Reports showed that one Filipino crew member died “in a boiler explosion” while another was injured after a fire broke out on the large oil tanker MT New Diamond off the eastern coast of Sri Lanka.

Rajapaksa extended his deepest appreciation for the cooperation and mutual support between Sri Lanka and the Philippines in multilateral venues, including at the UN Human Rights Council.

The two leaders committed to explore new opportunities for bilateral cooperation, particularly in the areas of security and defense, trade and investment, labor migration, and tourism.

They also agreed that combatting COVID-19 is a shared responsibility and an opportunity to work in solidarity with all nations.

Besides Sri Lanka, other countries included in the Philippines’ travel ban until July 15 to prevent the possible entry of the Delta COVID-19 variant are India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

The Philippines has so far reported a total of 17 Delta cases that originated from India.

The country initially detected 13 cases of the Delta COVID-19 variant, all from returning Filipino travelers. The four new cases are also returning Filipinos.