President Maithripala Sirisena says Sri Lanka is very keen to expand defence cooperation with Japan. He said this when Japanese State Minister of Defence, Kenji Harada called on him at the President’s Official Residence in Colombo today (July 26).
The President said that as both countries are interested in maritime security, Japan and Sri Lanka should further increase cooperation between the two navies to ensure international maritime security as well as safety and security of international waters.
He thanked the visiting Japanese Minister for longstanding development assistance provided to Sri Lanka by Japan, the President’s Media Division said.
President Sirisena said that the existing close cooperation in naval sector should also be expanded to the army and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two countries would be helpful for increasing cooperation.
The MoU on defence cooperation was signed by the visiting State Minister and his counterpart, Ruwan Wijewardane at the Ministry of Defence.
President Sirisena, referring to the tripartite agreement reached between Sri Lanka, Japan and India to develop the Eastern Terminal of Colombo Port said that it was very important step to develop the capacity of the Port of Colombo.
State Minister Kenji Harada said that defence and economic cooperation between Japan and Sri Lanka has made rapid progress in recent years and said that the cooperation between two navies cover joint naval operations, training and logistics.
Referring to Sri Lanka’s strategic placement in the Indian Ocean, he emphasized the importance of maritime cooperation between Sri Lanka and Japan as oceans are of utmost importance to both the countries.
Secretary to the President, Udaya R Seniviratne, Japanese Ambassador Akira Sugiyama, Director of Japanese Defence Cooperation and Exchanges, Masakazu Takahashi and Executive Assistant to State Minister, Hiroshi Kokubo were also present on this occasion.