Minister of Foreign Affairs M.U.M. Ali Sabry led the Sri Lanka delegation to the 30th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting held on 14 July 2023 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The ARF is an Asia-Pacific region centric security dialogue mechanism inaugurated in 1994 in Thailand which seeks to promote regional development and prosperity through open and inclusive dialogue while recognizing challenges to regional peace, security and prosperity. The ARF has 27 member states and Sri Lanka has been a member of the ARF since 2007.
Addressing the forum, Foreign Minister Sabry highlighted the important areas of cooperation for Sri Lanka, including maritime security, disaster management, defence related confidence building measures and preventive diplomacy, and for sustaining the growing economic dynamism and prosperity of the region. He also welcomed the steady advancement in the areas of cooperation in the ARF and unreservedly supported the process.
The Foreign Minister said that Sri Lanka intends to become a member of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which is the world’s largest free trade area that came into effect on 01 January 2022. Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam are the 15 founding members of the RCEP. The RCEP became open for new members from 1 July 2023 and Sri Lanka has submitted the Letter of Intent to the ASEAN Secretariat on 28 June 2023 to join the RCEP.
The Minister held a series of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the ARF with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Australia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, Timor Leste, Vietnam and the UK to discuss areas of mutual interest. During his stay in Jakarta, he also held discussions with the Indonesian Minister of Finance, the National Agency for Combating Terrorism (BNPT) of Indonesia and the Sri Lankan business community in Indonesia.
The Sri Lanka delegation included the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Indonesia Jayanath Colombage and Director General of the Southeast and Central Asia Division of the Foreign Ministry Waruna Wilpatha.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
15 July 2023