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Sri Lanka is scheduled to seek Malaysia’s assistance today (18) to establish a Sectoral Partnership with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The request, a Foreign Ministry source said yesterday, would be made by President Maithripala Sirisena when he holds official level talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Abdul Razak tomorrow. Malaysia is a founder member of the ASEAN.

The move comes as three important agreements where two Malaysian based companies chose to invest US$ 350 million were unexpectedly taken off the agenda for President Sirisena’s talks with Premier Razak. Premier Razak arrives at the Bandaranaike International Airport by special jet this morning. A guard of honour will be extended to him outside the Presidential Secretariat ahead of the talks.

A Sectoral Partnership with ASEAN will mean concentrated cooperation in specified fields with this southeast Asian regional body. Such areas could include relationships focused on cooperation on economic and environmental matters. At present ASEAN’s only sectoral partners are Norway, Switzerland and Pakistan.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday that at present Sri Lanka is a member of the Asian Regional Forum, one of 27 dialogue partners of the ASEAN. Sri Lanka’s participation was accepted at the 39th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

Sri Lanka joined ARF as an observer state in 2007. Besides talks with President Sirisena, the Malaysian Premier will also hold talks with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on matters relating particularly to economic cooperation.

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