Australia appoints new Envoy to Sri Lanka

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Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong, on 6 July, announced the appointment of Paul Stephens as Australia’s next High Commissioner to Sri Lanka (SL), its Foreign Ministry website said. The outgoing High Commissioner is David Holly who has been in Sri Lanka since 2019.

Stephens will also be accredited to Maldives pending the establishment of a resident Australian High Commission in Malé, its Ministry said.

Stephens is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and was most recently Assistant Secretary, India and Indian Ocean Branch, Australia’s Foreign Ministry said. He previously served overseas as Australia’s Ambassador to Sweden and in Thailand, Brazil and at Australia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, New York.

“As we mark 75 years of diplomatic relations in 2022, our close friendship is underpinned by extensive bilateral cooperation and people-to-people links,” the Ministry further quoting Wong said.

“Australia’s Sri Lankan community of 170,000 people makes a significant contribution to our society. Australia is committed to supporting Sri Lanka face its worst economic crisis in 70 years,” she said.

“Our Australian $ 50 million contribution will help Sri Lanka meet urgent food and healthcare needs. We will continue to work with Sri Lanka in response to these exceptional circumstances,” the Australian Foreign Minister said.

The bilateral relations encompass development cooperation, education, and close collaboration on countering people smuggling. “We support Sri Lanka as it makes progress towards meaningful reconciliation,” she added. (PA)