Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry participated in the 22nd Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting (CFAMM) in London on 15 March 2023. During the visit, he also attended the Commonwealth Day ceremonies celebrating 10 years of signing the Commonwealth Charter by Her Majesty the late Queen symbolizing the shared values and principles of member nations.
Addressing the CFAMM at Commonwealth headquarters, Minister Sabry reaffirmed Sri Lanka’s active engagement and spoke on the themes of climate financing for environmental sustainability; the need to leverage intra commonwealth trade for food & energy security and support the twin transition to a digital and greener future; and building resilient societies through democracy. He articulated the need for setting up a central body to enable regulations on digitization & digital assets expressing that Commonwealth can play an important role. He also drew attention to setting up of a climate change university in Sri Lanka, which was first mooted by President Ranil Wickremasinghe. In his meeting with Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland KC, both sides discussed engaging the Commonwealth to accelerate Sri Lanka’s sustainable development.
Minister Sabry during this visit, attended a series of events to mark the Commonwealth Day on 13 March, including a wreath – laying ceremony in memory of fallen Commonwealth servicemen and women, followed by a special service at Westminster Abbey in celebrating the diversity of cultures which featured a performance by Sri Lankan youth. The Commonwealth Flag for Peace was raised along with members’ flags to recognize 2023, as Commonwealth Year of Peace. The events concluded with a reception for visiting dignitaries hosted at Buckingham Palace by King Charles III, addressing the Commonwealth as its Head for the first time.
On the sidelines of the Commonwealth events, Minister Sabry met with Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Minister of State for Indo – Pacific at the Foreign Commonwealth Development Office of the UK. Lord Mervyn Davies of Abersoch, UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Sri Lanka had a meeting with Foreign Minister Sabry, particularly concentrating on the economy and developing further the trade and investment links between the two countries.
At both these meetings, Minister Sabry apprised the UK side of the advanced stages in the debt restructuring process and thanked the bilateral creditors and Paris Club members for the support and cooperation extended towards Sri Lanka in accelerating the process.
In addition, on the margins of CFAMM, Minister Sabry met with James Cleverly, Secretary of Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the UK and with Foreign Ministers of Malaysia, Rwanda and the State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan.
Minister Sabry, had an interactive session in the UK Parliament with a cross-section of the British Parliamentarians over ‘Ceylon Tea’ which was organized by the High Commission of Sri Lanka in London together with Sri Lanka Tea Board. The session included remarks by the Foreign Minister and UK’s Minister of State for International Trade, Nigel Huddleston.
The visit concluded with a discussion the Foreign Minister had with the British – Sri Lankan community on ways and means of contributing to Sri Lanka’s development process.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
20 March 2023