President’s Uganda visit strengthens diplomatic ties with Africa, unveils ‘Look Africa’ initiative for economic cooperation
January 21, Colombo (LNW): President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s recent visit to Uganda has played a significant role in strengthening diplomatic ties with African nations that were previously underrepresented in Sri Lanka’s foreign relations, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said.
Foreign Minister Ali Sabry highlighted the importance of these engagements, emphasising the substantial population of approximately 1.3 billion in these African countries and the expected rapid development in the future, a statement by the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.
Sabry in a special statement underscored the impact of President Wickremesinghe’s ‘Look Africa’ initiative, laying the groundwork for Sri Lanka to invest in African nations and initiating a new economic chapter for the country.
During the visit to Uganda, where the President participated in the 19th Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the G77+China Summit, Minister Ali Sabry emphasised the significance of expanding Sri Lanka’s engagement with Africa.
The President addressed global issues in his speech at the Non-Aligned Nations Conference, focusing on events in the Gaza Strip, Israel-Palestine, future steps for developing countries, and strategies for addressing debt burdens and climate change.
Wickremesinghe engaged in discussions with foreign leaders, including the President of Uganda, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, the Vice President of the Republic of Benin, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of India. These discussions aimed at enhancing bilateral relations between these nations and Sri Lanka.
Sabry expressed optimism that the visit would strengthen ties with African countries, often overlooked, with a substantial population projected for rapid development.
The economic progress under President Wickremesinghe’s leadership received appreciation, and the ‘Look Africa’ initiative laid the foundation for economic cooperation with African nations, according to statement.
President Museveni of Uganda specifically praised President Wickremesinghe for contributing to the reconstruction of the nation. The visit played a crucial role in fostering bilateral relations with numerous African countries.
Noteworthy is the ‘Look Africa’ initiative, which has set the stage for investing in African countries, exemplified by the arrangement with the Republic of Benin, expecting mutual benefits through visa exemptions for diplomatic, official, and service passport holders.
Minister Ali Sabry utilised the opportunity to engage in bilateral discussions with counterparts from Bangladesh, Bahrain, Ghana, Tanzania, Azerbaijan, and others, contributing to strengthening friendships and fostering economic ties.
Participation in such summits is seen as a strategy for Sri Lanka to enhance bilateral relations with international partners and derive substantial benefits for the nation.