Wednesday, July 27, 2011

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Sri Lanka, New Zealand discuss illegal migration, regional security

  • Wednesday, July 27, 2011
  • Aruntha Kanagaratnam
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  • External Affairs Minister Professor G L Peiris had bilateral discussions on the sidelines of the Regional Forum in Bali, Indonesia with Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand Murray McCully.

    Minister Peiris having discussions with New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.

    Among the matters discussed was the issue of illegal migration, in the context of regional security.

    The vessel "Alice", currently apprehended in Indonesian waters, was believed to be travelling to a destination which could possibly have been New Zealand. This represents continuity with the problem posed by illegal immigrants who arrived in Canada on previous occasions on board "The Ocean Lady" and "Sun Sea" Prof Peiris discussed the implications of these developments with Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird on the sidelines of the Regional Forum in Bali.

    The issue of illicit migration was also touched upon during a conversation which Minister Peiris had with Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd.

    The Government of Australia was dealing with matters connected with the vessel "Ocean Viking" which had reached the shores of Australia.

    Some months ago Prof. Peiris discussed with his counterpart in Thailand, the elements of an overall strategy to deal with this problem. On his return from Thailand, he convened at the Ministry of External Affairs a meeting, attended by the High Commissioners of Australia, Canada and Malaysia, and the Ambassadors of Indonesia and Thailand, to decide on a series of measures to be adopted for this purpose.

    The issue of illicit migration, together with its repercussions on regional security and law and order aspects, received a sharp focus in the discussions of Foreign Ministers at the Bali Conference.

    Minister Peiris, citing recent observations by representatives of some Western governments and the UNHCR, emphasized that asylum seekers on board these vessels had no legitimate claim and that they are merely economic refugees.

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