Duterte eyes Sri Lanka visit when COVID-19 situation improves

Published June 30, 2021, 3:50 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte has accepted the invitation to visit Sri Lanka once the global coronavirus situation has improved.

President Rodrigo Duterte (File photo/Malacañang)

The invitation to embark on the foreign trip was relayed by Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa during a phone conversation with the Philippine leader Monday, June 28 while discussing ways to boost bilateral cooperation on trade, defense, and tourism. The Palace released the information only Wednesday, June 30.

“President Rajapaksa extended deepest appreciation for the cooperation and mutual support between Sri Lanka and the Philippines in multilateral venues, including at the United Nations Human Rights,” the Palace said.

“He likewise extended his invitation for President Duterte to visit Sri Lanka, to which the President responded saying that he is looking forward to undertaking such visit when the global situation normalizes,” it said.

In the phone call, the two leaders agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations between the Philippines and Sri Lanka. The two countries are commemorating 60 years of diplomatic relations this year.

“Over the last six decades we have pursued fruitful relations. We look forward to sustaining this and exploring further the full potential of our cooperative ties,” Duterte said.

Duterte likewise expressed the country’s interest “to further strengthen engagement with Sri Lanka in the United Nations on issues of common interest.”

“The President thanked the Sri Lankan government for its assistance in the repatriation of Filipinos amid this pandemic and for the safe return of Filipino seafarers in the MT New Diamond that caught fire off the eastern coast of Sri Lanka in September 2020,” the Palace said.

The two leaders likewise agreed to explore new areas of bilateral cooperation, especially in the security and defense, trade and investment, labor migration, and tourism.

“They also agreed that combatting COVID-19 is a shared responsibility and an opportunity to work in solidarity with all nations,” the Palace said