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SriLankan Airlines to commence Melbourne flights from October

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop meeting Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake last evening. Picture by Nirosh Batepola

Foreign Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake yesterday said SriLankan Airlines would commence its operations to Melbourne with effect from October.

The minister was addressing a press briefing after meeting with Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop at his Ministry. Bishop’s visit to Sri Lanka coincided with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Australia.

Bishop will call on President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today. Karunanayake said his talks with his Australian counterpart were aimed at enhancing bilateral cooperation in areas of economic partnership, development cooperation, tourism, reconciliation, and maritime security.

He made an open invitation to Australian investors “to take full advantage of Sri Lanka transforming itself into an important and viable logistical hub in the East-West maritime.”

The two ministers during their talks have also paid attention to enhance cooperation in technical and vocational education and training to empower Sri Lankan youth.

“It is a happy coincidence that Foreign Minister of Singapore Vivian Balakrishnan and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop are visiting Sri Lanka at the same time. We have made use of this opportunity to meet together tomorrow and discuss issues of common interest,” Karunanayake said.

Bishop in her speech said statistics of a recent census revealed that 170,000 Sri Lankans have found homes in Australia as at present.

She said 30,000 Sri Lankan students have obtained Australian educational qualifications under the Colombo Plan programme, adding that this programme has been broadened to enable more student exchange programmes.