Chief of Staff to the President and National Security Advisor (NSA) Mr Sagala Ratnayaka led the Sri Lanka delegation to the 20th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s premier Security Summit held in Singapore from 2 – 4 June 2023.
The highly anticipated summit commenced on 2 June with a powerful Keynote address delivered by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Throughout the event, a series of plenary sessions delved into various crucial geo-political issues, encompassing the establishment of a stable and balanced Asia Pacific, the resolution of regional tensions, the evolution of maritime security in Asia, US leadership in the Indo-Pacific, and China’s latest security initiatives, among other topics.
During the Special Session focusing on ‘Defence Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region,’ Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka delivered an impactful statement, participating alongside representatives from India, Oman, France, and the United States. He emphasized the significance of keeping big power rivalries and external conflicts out of the Indian Ocean, highlighting Sri Lanka’s efforts in the United Nations to declare the region as a zone of peace. Furthermore, he underscored the country’s contributions to preserving freedom of navigation and over flight, stressing the crucial need for constructive dialogue among all stakeholders in the Indian Ocean region to pursue shared interests.
While in Singapore, Mr. Ratnayaka took the opportunity to pay a courtesy call on Singapore’s Foreign Minister, Mr Vivian Balakrishnan. During the meeting, he expressed Sri Lanka’s keen interest in enhancing the partnership between the two countries, with a particular focus on economic cooperation. Additionally, he conveyed his gratitude to the Singaporean Government for their support during challenging times, exemplifying the strong bond shared by the two nations. Minister Balakrishnan reciprocated the interest and expressed enthusiasm for the economic focus areas discussed, which encompassed food security, renewable energy, and the port and logistics sectors, indicating a commitment to close collaboration in these domains.
On the side lines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, Mr. Ratnayaka engaged in bilateral meetings with several high-ranking officials. Firstly, he met with Mr. Greg Moriaty, the Secretary of the Department of Defence of Australia. The discussions centred on maritime security, combating human smuggling, and strengthening defence cooperation between Sri Lanka and Australia.
Additionally, Mr. Ratnayaka held a bilateral session with General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Joint Chief of Staff Committee of Pakistan Armed Forces. The primary focus of their talks was fostering defence cooperation between the two countries and promoting regional stability.
Furthermore, the Sri Lankan National Security Advisor met with the Commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral John Aquilino. The discussions revolved around pressing issues in the Indian Ocean Region, with Mr. Ratnayaka effectively conveying the Government of Sri Lanka’s stance on these matters.
Another significant bilateral meeting took place between Mr. Ratnayaka and Ms. Christine Cipolla, Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The meeting centred around vital humanitarian issues relevant to the region, underscoring Sri Lanka’s commitment to addressing such challenges.
Moreover, Mr. Ratnayaka held a crucial bilateral meeting with Mr. Vikram Misiri, Deputy National Security Adviser of India. During this meeting, both countries raised critical security concerns and explored avenues to strengthen defence cooperation.
Meanwhile, Mr. Sagala Ratnayake also met Mr. Oleksii Yuriyovych Reznikov, Minister of Defence of Ukraine.
Throughout the summit, the National Security Advisor actively participated in two Ministerial Roundtables, hosted by Singapore’s Minister of Defence, Dr. Ng Eng Hen. These roundtables brought together over 29 ministers and representatives attending the Shangri-La Dialogue, providing a platform for comprehensive discussions on key security issues.
The official visit of the National Security Advisor to the Shangri-La Dialogue was successfully coordinated by the High Commission of Sri Lanka in Singapore, showcasing the diplomatic efforts to ensure a productive and fruitful engagement at the prestigious Security Summit.
Chief of Defence Staff General Shavendra Silva and the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Singapore Ms Sashikala Premawardhane accompanied Mr Ratnayake.