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Sri Lanka and Indonesia strengthen bilateral ties at 10th World Water Summit

May 20, Colombo (LNW): During the 10th World Water Summit, President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Indonesian President Joko Widodo reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the longstanding relationship between Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

The discussions covered a wide range of regional and international issues, underscoring the importance of collaboration in addressing global challenges, according to the President’s Media Division (PMD).

President Wickremesinghe opened the meeting by highlighting the historical ties between Sri Lanka and Indonesia, which date back to their joint participation in the 1956 Bandung Conference.

He expressed appreciation for President Widodo’s leadership in regional, international, and bilateral matters, noting the importance of such summits in fostering global cooperation.

A major topic of discussion was the critical issue of water management. President Wickremesinghe emphasised the importance of the World Water Summit and expressed Sri Lanka’s willingness to participate in the Global Blended Financial Alliance, an initiative aimed at addressing common financial challenges faced by countries in managing water resources.

He commended Indonesia for establishing a Secretariat for the Alliance, recognising its significance for Sri Lanka.

President Widodo, in his remarks, focused on economic cooperation between the two countries.

He stressed the need to finalise the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) by the first quarter of 2025 to enhance economic ties.

Additionally, he highlighted Indonesia’s interest in entering the Sri Lankan vaccine market through Indonesian pharmaceutical companies and called for the lifting of import restrictions on Indonesian palm oil and related products.

The Indonesian President also showcased Indonesia’s advancements in renewable energy, specifically the country’s largest floating solar power project.

He emphasised the importance of hydro diplomacy and political leadership in achieving sustainable water management and development goals.

Furthermore, he welcomed Sri Lanka’s leadership in the Indian Ocean Rim Association and its aspirations to become a sectoral dialogue partner.

President Wickremesinghe reiterated the importance of completing the PTA by early 2025, noting Sri Lanka’s existing free trade agreements with India and Singapore, and ongoing negotiations with Thailand, Bangladesh, and Malaysia.

He emphasised the potential benefits of joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), suggesting that Sri Lanka’s inclusion could encourage other South Asian countries to follow suit.

He also mentioned the ongoing removal of import restrictions and assured that Sri Lankan health authorities would address the entry of Indonesian pharmaceuticals into the market.

The discussion also touched upon regional security and economic cooperation in the Indian Ocean.

President Wickremesinghe supported ASEAN’s Indo-Pacific outlook and stressed the need for closer bilateral and regional cooperation regarding Indian Ocean affairs.

He proposed more frequent meetings between heads of government and a specific bilateral agreement with Indonesia to enhance commercial collaboration in the region.

President Widodo thanked Sri Lanka for co-sponsoring the Global Blended Financial Alliance, emphasising its role in achieving sustainable development goals.

He called for continued collaboration between relevant ministries from both countries to support this initiative.

Looking ahead, President Widodo mentioned the upcoming presidential transition in Indonesia and expressed hope that the new administration would continue to strengthen ties with Sri Lanka.

In conclusion, President Wickremesinghe expressed his eagerness to work with Indonesia’s new leadership and extended a personal invitation to President Widodo to visit Sri Lanka after his term ends in October.

Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing bilateral relations and addressing shared global challenges through continued cooperation.

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