Sri Lanka and Korea had political consultations on July 30, 2013.
The meeting attended by Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs, Karunatilaka Amunugama and 1st Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kyou-hyun of Korea was initiated by the two parties as a progress review of the State visit concluded by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2012.
Both sides were satisfied with the recent developments in bilateral cooperation and discussed ways and means of further enhancing and consolidating the economic partnership which was the main focus of discussion during the Summit meeting held by President Rajapaksa with his counterpart of Korea.
The proposed visit by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea to Sri Lanka scheduled between 28 - 30 August 2013 was considered as a direct follow-up to the discussions at the Summit meeting in further harnessing political goodwill among the leaders of the two countries. Among many other matters that were discussed, Secretary Amunugama highlighted the importance of improving trade relations in strengthening equitable economic benefits for both countries. In this context, Korean authorities committed to use the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) in extending more benefits for Sri Lanka experts to reach the South Korean market. Mr. Amunugama drew important parallels between the two economies in utilizing the human resources factor for strengthening the current economic capabilities.
In this context, the Korean authorities were keen to assist Sri Lanka in her desire to achieve the ‘knowledge hub’ status as indicated in the Mahinda Chinthana policy doctrine by extending more opportunities for education and technical capacity building for Sri Lanka students and government officers. Secretary/External Affairs also requested extended quota for Sri Lanka migrant workers in Korea noting the dual advantages generated by the expat labour community of Sri Lanka in stimulating the capacity of both economies. The Korean authorities commended on the ability by the Sri Lankan labour force to be integrated into the Korean working culture expeditiously. Both sides acknowledged that the expat labour community of Sri Lanka is a strong base of enhancing people to people inter-actions between the two countries.
The Secretary encouraged further the investment opportunities for the Korean entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka and invited the participation of top business leaders of the Republic of Korea at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) Business Forum which would create a platform for the visiting business community to interact in a regional context as well as seeking more bilateral investment opportunities.
Both parties discussed the importance attached to the Saemaul Undong (village reawakening) process. The KOICA President in his interaction with Secretary Amunugama was satisfied with the progress of KOICA implemented projects in Sri Lanka and expressed the desire to use Sri Lanka as a model project to successfully implement “Saemaul Undong”. According to the KOICA President, this process was the first step of the economic success being experienced by Korea today.
External Affairs Ministry Secretary met with the President of the Korea National Development Academy (KNDA). This institute’s main function is to train the Korean diplomats and experts from the both public and private sector and improve human capacity in Korea’s development. The other functions that were undertaken by this institute is research and academic exchanges and policy support. Secretary/External Affairs proposed to seek the feasibility of linking the KNDA with the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of Sri Lanka in generating mutually beneficial opportunities in the research and academic fields of both countries.
In his discussions with the Korean Development Association (KDA) Mr. Amunugama invited it’s President Prof. Kim to visit Sri Lanka to interact with the top administration of the country in sharing thoughts on Korea’s development process.
Mr. Amunugama also took the opportunity to explain to the Korean authorities in detail the economic resurgence taking place in the country upon the eradication of terrorism and the efforts made by the government towards national reconciliation.
The second Foreign Ministerial consultations also was able to formalize a dialogue between the two Foreign Ministries periodically in further enhancing practical cooperation between the two countries.