Sri Lanka and France convened the inaugural bilateral consultations between the two Foreign Ministries at senior official level on 25 October 2023 in Colombo. The consultations were part of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and France which took place on 27 October 1948.
The consultations focussed on strengthening bilateral relations, supporting ongoing work on existing projects and initiatives, and identifying new areas of partnership and coordinated action between the two countries. The consultations reflected the desire expressed by President Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Emmanuel Macron during their meeting in Colombo on July 28, 2023, to strengthen the partnership between the two countries.
The two parties reviewed progress in political relations; security; cultural cooperation and people-to-people contacts. They expressed their shared commitment to the values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
The parties discussed the expansion of trade, investment, tourism and development cooperation between the two countries and between Sri Lanka and the EU, including the setting up of relevant modalities to facilitate economic cooperation between Sri Lanka and France. The parties committed to strengthening cooperation in the field of education by welcoming the support of France towards the teaching of the French language in Sri Lanka as well as strengthening cooperation between the two countries through academic and research exchanges between institutions of higher education.
Sri Lanka appreciated the role played by France in bringing together the creditor platform under the aegis of the Paris Club in advancing the debt restructuring discussions. The two parties discussed progress in Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring programme. Reference was made to the need to ensure fair and equitable treatment of all creditors. France commended the action and reforms undertaken by Sri Lanka as part of the programme agreed with the IMF, and expressed its firm commitment and support towards the country’s economic recovery.
The two sides reiterated their shared commitment to cooperate on global issues, including the sustainable development goals, climate change and environmental protection, food security, reform of the multilateral financial architecture, and agreed to deepen their joint efforts in the future, building upon their participation in the Paris Pact for the People and the Planet. The parties expressed their willingness to work together in preparation for the Third United Nations Ocean Conference to be held in France in 2025. The two sides exchanged views on cooperation in the Indian Ocean and agreed to work towards a sustainable, safe and secure Indian Ocean community in the context of Sri Lanka’s chairmanship of IORA. Sri Lanka and France discussed progress in the establishment of a regional maritime safety and security school in Sri Lanka as part of their shared desire to promote safety, security and sustainable development in the Indian Ocean.
The two sides set ambitious targets to be met in the upcoming year and agreed that the next session of the bilateral consultations will take place in Paris in 2024.
The consultations were co-chaired by Ms. Shobini Gunasekera, Director General for Europe and North America of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka and Mr. Benoît Guidée, Director of Asia and Oceania of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France.
27 October 2023
Colombo, Sri Lanka