Sri Lankan president discusses asylum seekers in Australia

Published

By Associated Press

Sri Lanka’s president met with the Australian prime minister on Thursday with fighting people-smuggling high on the agenda.

Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena, left, and Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull smile at photographers as they meet at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, May 25, 2017. Sirisena's visit to Australia marks the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the countries. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP)

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena, left, and Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull smile at photographers as they meet at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, May 25, 2017. Sirisena’s visit to Australia marks the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the countries. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP)

President Maithripala Sirisena is making the first visit by a Sri Lankan head of state to Australia. His visit to Canberra and Sydney marks the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the countries.

After meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, he was also scheduled to speak with Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton.

Sri Lankans, Iranians and Afghans are the largest national groups among more than 2,000 asylum seekers who are kept at Australia’s expense on the Pacific island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea. But no Sri Lankan asylum seeker has reached Australia by boat since 2013.

“President Sirisena’s visit will be an opportunity to advance key areas of bilateral cooperation, including education, defense, science and technology, economic development, medical research and the fight against people smuggling,” Turnbull said in a statement before their meeting.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said during an Australian visit in February that Sri Lankan asylum seekers held on Pacific island camps who could potentially settle in the United States were free to return home without fear of persecution.

Read more: http://news.mb.com.ph/2017/05/25/sri-lankan-president-discusses-asylum-seekers-in-australia/