Dy External Affairs Minister reveals close cooperation with Australia

By Saman Indrajith

Deputy External Affairs Minister Neomal Perera told Parliament yesterday that Sri Lanka and Australia had strong relations and a mutual understanding about the problem of Sri Lankan illegal immigrants. "We are making a joint effort to solve this problem," he said.

He was responding to a series of questions raised by DNA MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake who made a special statement on the recent arrest of two boatloads of illegal immigrants by Australian authorities.

Deputy Minister said that the Australian authorities had arrested two boatloads of Sri Lankans at the end of last month. The identities of the persons taken into custody had been established. Sri Lankan and Australian governments were working very closely to find a solution to the problem of illegal immigrants, he said.

MP Dissanayake said that according to foreign media reports two boatloads of Lankans had been nabbed by Australian authorities but no statement had been made with regard to their situation. On July 07, the Australian authorities had handed over 41 Lankans to the Navy’s Samudura ship in seas off Batticaloa. There was no information as to where and when those people had been arrested.

MP Dissanayake demanded to know why the Australian government had refused to make a statement on those illegal immigrants and asked the government to explain the procedure to be followed with regard to Lankan illegal immigrants.


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