Foreign Minister Ali Sabry concludes ASEAN tour

August 6, 2022 at 11:10 PM

Foreign Minister Ali Sabry participated in the 29th Edition of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), that took place on the 5th of August 2022 in Cambodia.

Whilst being congratulated by most delegations on his recent appointment, Minister Ali Sabry had fruitful discussions on bilateral relations with some of the key members from the ARF.

The delegations from European Union, China, India, and Japan reiterated their support for Sri Lanka in the path of economic recovery, whilst the delegation from the United States sharing the same sentiments emphasized on the opportunity that awaits Sri Lanka with this crisis to make something very positive out of a very difficult situation.

The Foreign Minister also had bilateral discussions with several officials including :

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, United States Secretary of State and the External Affairs Minister of India.

Statement by M.U.M. Ali Sabry

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka

29th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) 

5th August 2022

His Excellency Prak Sokhonn,

Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

of the Kingdom of Cambodia,

Your Excellences,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Colleagues & Friends,

May I at the outset join other speakers in extending our sincere appreciation to the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia for their warm hospitality and hosting the ASEAN Regional Forum in person and that we are able to meet face to face in this beautiful city. On a personal note, may I note this is my first overseas engagement as Foreign Minister and I am immensely pleased to join this ARF family, as we work together to discuss common issues and challenges facing the Asia and Pacific region.

As the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) moves towards its third decade, we believe more than ever, it is a vital platform for dialogue in the region. The forum provides an invaluable opportunity to discuss pressing regional issues at hand and help to develop cooperative measures to enhance peace and security in the region.

Mr. Chair,

It is of immense value that we are meeting today in person, after been confined to the virtual realm after the COVID pandemic. Although it is hoped the virus is becoming less deadly and many countries are moving towards the recovery stage, the ravages of the pandemic continue to have a legacy in our countries. It has placed severe strains and challenges on our public health infrastructure, food systems, work environment and societies. The ensuing economic and social disruption has pushed many into extreme poverty and unemployment. My own country had suffered from a terrific terrorist attack that affected our tourism in 2019, before the COVID pandemic a year later that put immense strains on our tourism inflows and revenue. Today, International conflicts, an energy crisis, disruptions on the supply chains and food shortages of essential grains have had devastating affects across the globe.

These show how our countries are all interconnected and vulnerable to global crisis, shocks and strains. In addressing many of the related challenges, it is essential that governments work closely, holistically and together.

In this post COVID recovery phase, it is paramount that we work together in a spirit of solidarity and support one another- particularly those most vulnerable in our societies.

Mr Chair,

We therefore applaud you in convening this meeting under the theme “ASEAN: A.C.T – Addressing Challenges Together,” – which is the need of the day. In using this theme may I share some thoughts.

We must take this opportunity to build back better and commit more meaningfully to share and pool our expertise and experience, to support countries in crisis and help in efforts to achieve our Sustainable Development Goals. We need to look into long-term sustainable strategies to address challenges facing our health and agri-food sectors.

We highlight priority be given to look at underlying food security and malnutrition, tackling rural poverty and extending social protection to all. We must keep markets open, assist people and businesses rebuilding from the pandemic, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises and the most vulnerable groups and preserve supply chain connectivity to maintain food security.

We must genuinely re-examine the future of our vulnerable planet and tackle climate change and environmental degradation with greater purpose and urgency. In many countries our Youth are demanding more from the elders in this area.

Only through some of these measures can we protect the health, livelihoods, food security and nutrition of all people, and ensure that our ‘new normal’ is a better and sustainable one.

Mr. Chair,

Being an Island, situated between East and West, Sri Lanka recognises the need to maintain peace and stability of our oceans and freedom of navigation. The ocean provides a vital lifeline to many of our countries. In this regard, we urge the settlement of any disputes and differences through constructive dialogue, consultation and cooperation by parties concerned, in accordance with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Mr. Chair,

Sri Lanka remains committed to the work of the ARF and its vital role as a dynamic multilateral body in the wider Asia Pacific region, to develop constructive dialogue and consultation on political and security issues that are of mutual interest and concern. This makes an immensely valuable contribution at various efforts to promote confidence building and preventive diplomacy in the Asia Pacific region.

We believe that the ARF has become a valuable contributor to maintaining peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region. It plays an important role in preventing conflict and conflict situations, avoiding the use of force and is a crucial vehicle for conflict resolution.

Sri Lanka stands ready to work with you and other members in the collective work of our ARF family for the successful outcome of this meeting and take forward our collective work, in promoting peace, security and cooperation for the greater benefit of the people of the region.

I thank you Mr. Chair,