Foreign relations of Sri Lanka

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Coat of arms of Sri Lanka, showing a lion holding a sword in its right forepaw surrounded by a ring made from blue lotus petals which is placed on top of a grain vase sprouting rice grains to encircle it. A Dharmacakra is on the top while a sun and moon are at the bottom on each side of the vase.
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politics and government of
Sri Lanka

Foreign relations of Sri Lanka refers to the diplomatic and commercial relations between Sri Lanka and other countries. Sri Lanka has stressed its principle of friendship towards all, enmity towards none in its diplomacy. Sri Lanka traditionally follows a Non-Aligned Foreign Policy and does not take sides with major powers.

Since the end of the Cold War , the country has pursued better relations with all major powers and seeks to strengthen its diplomatic, economic and military ties with India, Bangladesh, Russia, United States, China, Pakistan, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and European Union. Sri Lanka has also forged close ties with the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), African Union and Arab League.

Sri Lanka participates in multilateral diplomacy, particularly at the United Nations, where it seeks to promote sovereignty, independence, and development in the developing world. Sri Lanka was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). It also is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Colombo Plan. Sri Lanka continues its active participation in the NAM, while also stressing the importance it places on regionalism by playing a strong role in SAARC.


The goal of Sri Lanka's foreign policy is to maintain a strong, independent, powerful and unitary Sri Lanka; The Sri Lankan foreign policy establishment maintains that in achieving this goal.

Sri Lanka’s foreign policy has been founded in the national interest. In a period of rapid and continuing change, foreign policy capable of responding optimally to new challenges and opportunities. It has to be an integral part of the larger effort of building the nation's capabilities through economic development, strengthening social fabric and well-being of the people and protecting Sri Lanka's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Sri Lanka's foreign policy is a forward-looking engagement with the rest of the world, based on a rigorous, realistic and contemporary assessment of the bilateral, regional and global geo-political and economic milieu.


The Sri Lanka Armed Forces is the overall unified military of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka encompassing the Sri Lanka Army, the Sri Lanka Navy, the Sri Lanka Air Force which comes under preview of the Ministry of Defence (Sri Lanka) (MOD). They receive military support from mainly India, China, Pakistan, Israel and Russia. United States and India also give limited support, such as training.

Bilateral relations[edit]



Diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Kenya was established in 1970. Sri Lanka has a High Commission in Nairobi.It serves Ethiopia, Tanzania, UNEP and UN-HABITAT, Rwanda, Mali and South Sudan.

H.E. Mr. T. Raveenthiran is the current Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Kenya.

South Africa[edit]

Sri Lanka established diplomatic relations on 12 September 1994 following the end of apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela to the new Government of South Africa of its post apartheid period.Sri Lanka is represented in South Africa through its embassy in Pretoria.The Government of South Africa established its resident diplomatic mission in Colombo in September 2007.



Relations are historically tied together even beyond the sub-continent's colonisation by the British. Sri Lanka's first King (to be mentioned in the ancient Pali chronicles) was alleged to have ancestors from the Vanga Kingdom which occupied an area now known as Bangladesh. Bangladesh's Buddhist minority gifted Sri Lanka with a few strands of hair said to have belonged to Buddha as a sign of goodwill. It is a worshipped object on Poya Day, a Buddhist public holiday in Sri Lanka.

In August 2008, both heads of states discussed the implementation of new air links in hope of increasing trade, investment and stronger cultural links. Sri Lanka's current investments have been in Bangladesh's garment and banking sector and expect to diversify into different areas. Bangladesh also hosts a number of Sri Lankan medical students and cricket as a form of friendly communications between their people. There has been discussion to increase bilateral relations, cooperation between the two navies and sending Sri Lankan Naval personal to study in Bangladesh.



In 1411, the Ming Dynasty fought a war against the Kingdom of Kotte. This conflict was known as the Ming-Kotte War.

China and Sri Lanka are now engaged in healthy relations, as China provided valuable equipment and materials to the Sri Lankan Army, to help defeat the LTTE. Recently, in the Summer of 2012, the Chinese officials visited Sri Lankan military officials. Currently, Sri Lanka seems intent on maintaining a good relationship with China, both militarily and politically.


Bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and India have been generally friendly, but were affected by the Sri Lankan civil war and by the failure of Indian intervention during the Sri Lankan civil war. India is Sri Lanka's only neighbour, separated by the Palk Strait; both nations occupy a strategic position in South Asia and have sought to build a common security umbrella in the Indian Ocean.[2]

India-Sri Lanka relations have undergone a qualitative and quantitative transformation in the recent past. Political relations are close, trade and investments have increased dramatically, infrastructural linkages are constantly being augmented, defence collaboration has increased and there is a general, broad-based improvement across all sectors of bilateral cooperation. India was the first country to respond to Sri Lanka's request for assistance after the tsunami in December 2004. In July 2006, India evacuated 430 Sri Lankan nationals from Lebanon, first to Cyprus by Indian Navy ships and then to Delhi & Colombo by special Air India flights.

There exists a broad consensus within the Sri Lankan polity on the primacy of India in Sri Lanka's external relations matrix. Both the major political parties in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the United Nationalist Party have contributed to the rapid development of bilateral relations in the last ten years. Sri Lanka has supported India's candidature to the permanent membership of the UN Security Council.[3]


Iran and Sri Lanka have had official diplomatic relations since 1961.[4]

Diplomatic relations between Iran and Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) began in 1961 via the Ceylonese embassy in Islamabad, which was the closest Ceylon had to a presence on Iranian soil until the opening of the Tehran embassy office in 1990. Tehran set up its Colombo office in 1975.

After Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became President of Iran, Sri Lanka was the first country he visited on his inaugural Asian tour.[5] Mahinda Rajapaksa also made ties with Iran a priority after he ascended to office.[6]


Sri Lanka has a close relationship with Israel, and its military is a major user of Israeli weapons systems that include the IAI Kfir Fighter Jet, the Super Dvora Mk III class Patrol Vessel, and the Gabriel missile. In May 2011, the Israeli Minister of Agriculture visited Sri Lanka with an agro-business delegation to promote cooperation between the two countries.[7]


  • Indonesia has an embassy in Colombo
  • Sri Lanka has an embassy in Jakarta.


During World War II, an air raid was carried out by Japan to bomb the city of Colombo in Sri Lanka. Later on, Japan and Sri Lanka became friendly and established a relation in 1952. Japan has an embassy in Colombo.[8] Sri Lanka has an embassy in Tokyo.[9] Sri Lankan President JR Jayawardene played a major role in re-admitting Japan to the world community at the San Francisco Conference

South Korea[edit]

Establishment of Diplomatic Relations November 14, 1977 and the Republic of Korea's Investment in Sri Lanka (cumulative total at the end of June 2014): $731million.[10] The Republic of Korea has an embassy in Colombo. Sri Lanka has an embassy in Seoul.


Malaysia has a high commission in Colombo,[11] and Sri Lanka has a high commission in Kuala Lumpur.[12]


Official and economic relations between the neighboring Indian Ocean countries of the Maldives and Sri Lanka, have been positive since the Maldives became independent in 1965. The Maldives first established a mission in Sri Lanka in July 1965, and today has a high commission in Colombo.[13] Sri Lanka has a high commission in Malé.[14] Both countries were founding members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in December 1985.[15]


Nepal and Sri Lanka established diplomatic relations on 1 July 1957. Nepal opened an Honorary Consulate General in Colombo in 1975 and established its Embassy in 1995. Sri Lanka has a residential Embassy in Kathmandu since 1993. Around sixty thousand Sri Lankans visit Lumbini annually to pay homage to Gautam Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini, so Government of Sri Lanka has built a Rest House and constructed a Buddhist Monastery Complex in Lumbini.

Following the April 2015 Nepal earthquake, Sri Lanka was one of the first three countries to send medical and search-and-rescue teams to the country. The Air Force sent flights of C-130 Hercules aircraft, and SriLankan Airlines sent Airbus A330 aircraft, carrying Army emergency teams.[16]



  • Sri Lanka's ties with Pakistan have historically been very warm. During the Indo-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971 Sri Lanka served as a transit point for air travel between West Pakistan and East Pakistan, as Indian airspace was closed. Pakistan supplies military equipment to the Sri Lankan armed forces. In the past, Pakistan has been a major ally of Sri Lanka in supplying High-Tech military equipment to the Sri Lankan army in the civil war against the Tamil rebels prevailing in the country.
  • There is a Pakistani embassy located in Sri Lanka and a Sri Lankan embassy situated in Pakistan.
  • The Sri Lankan government and the Pakistani government are determined to increase their military as well as economic ties. They are also working on a mutual cooperation agreement on combatting terrorism.


  • The diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Sri Lanka, established in July 1970, have been continuously developing in many fields.


Both Sri Lanka and Singapore share diplomatic relations with Singapore contributing to various projects in Sri Lanka. During a visit to Singapore by Sri lankan prime minister Wickremasinghe, Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said both Sri Lanka and Singapore share historical links and connection in the past.

North America[edit]

President Jayewardene of Sri Lanka presents a baby elephant to President Reagan and the American people in 1984


United States[edit]

  • The U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka is located in Colombo, as are U.S. Agency for International Development offices and Public Affairs offices. IBB offices are located near Chilaw, 75 km north of Colombo.

South America[edit]



Consulate General Office of Sri Lanka in Hamburg


United Kingdom[edit]


  • Sri Lanka recognized Croatia on 27 May 1992.[19]
  • Both countries established diplomatic relations on 4 February 1997.[19]
  • Both countries have agreed on bilateral treaties in various fields.[20]

Czech Republic[edit]

  • Historical relations between Czech Republic and Sri Lanka have been good with foundations to build upon in strengthening bilateral cooperation.
  • There have been state visits by both sides.[21]
  • The Czech Republic has a consulate in Colombo.[22]
  • In 2000 Czech Republic provided RM-70 multiple rocket launchers for Sri Lanka Army.[23]




  • Sri Lanka recognised Estonia on 10 October 1991.
  • Sri Lanka has an embassy in Stockholm which serves Estonia.
  • Estonia has a consulate in Sri Lanka.
  • Economic relations between Sri Lanka and Estonia are at moderate level.


  • Both countries established diplomatic relations in 1957[29]
  • Greece is represented in Sri Lanka by ts embassy in New Delhi, India.[30]
  • Sri Lanka is represented in Greece by ts embassy in Rome, Italy.[29][30]

Holy See[edit]

  • Formal relations Began in 1978.
  • The Holy See has a nunciature in Colombo. Sri Lanka has an embassy in Rome.


  • Sri Lanka has an embassy in Vienna, Austria that is accredited to Hungary[31] and has a consul in Budapest[32]
  • Hungary maintains a consulate in Colombo, Sri Lanka.[33]
  • The relationship is low-keyed, but there are no outstanding issues. Hungary contributed to relief after the 2004 Tsunami, and has since stepped up aid to Sri Lanka.[34]


  • Romania-Sri Lankan relations are foreign relations between the Romania and Sri Lanka. The Romanian Ambassador in New Delhi is concurrently accredited to Sri Lanka, while the Sri Lanka Mission in Warsaw is concurrently accredited to Romania.[35] The President of Sri Lanka, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga characterized relations between the two countries in 2003 as "close and friendly".[36]

Diplomatic relation between Sri Lanka and Romania were established on 15 September 1957. Initially maintained at Legation level, the relations were later raised to Ambassadorial level in 1967. In 1963 Romania opened a Commercial Office in Colombo, this was upgraded to as Embassy in 1976 with a chargé d'affaires. The Romanian Mission in Colombo was closed in 1995 but reopened as a Commercial Office in 1998.

In 1978 the Sri Lankan minister of Foreign Affairs visited Romania.[35]

Romania provided 32,000 euros worth of humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami devastated the country in December 2004.[37]

The ambassador designate of Sri Lanka in Bucharest was Clarence Felician Chinniah[37] until his death in January 2009.[38][39]

In December 2009, Valerica Epure presented her credentials to President Mahinda Rajapaksa to become Ambassador-Designate of Romania to Sri Lanka.[40][41][42][43]

In December 2009 with the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka 46 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees were sent to Romania to be processed for resettlement from Indonesia on their way to Australia.[44]

Bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Romania was valued at US $8.87 million in 2007, up from US $7.9 million in 2006.[45] Efforts have been made to expand trade in Ceylon tea to Romania.[46] In 2009, Chairman and CEO of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board Anil Koswatte has singled out Romania as country for which exports could be increased.[47]

Romania and Sri Lanka have the following bilateral agreements in place:

  • Agreement to promote cultural cooperation (1974)
  • Agreement on the promotion and protection of investment (1987)[50]
  • Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation (1987)[51]


  • During the war between the Sri Lanka Armed Forces (Government of Sri Lanka) and Tamil Tigers, Russia helped Sri Lanka by providing education on battle field tactics to Sri Lanka Army.
  • Sri Lanka also reacted in favor of Russia during the Ukrainian crisis, and acknowledged the concerns of Russia as justifiable.
  • Russia has an embassy in Colombo.Sri Lanka has an embassy in Moscow.


  • Both countries have established diplomatic relations in 1956.[52]
  • A number of bilateral agreements in various fields have been concluded and are in force between both countries.[53]


In the 1980s political relations between Switzerland and Sri Lanka intensified with many Sri Lankan Tamils fleeing from the ethnic conflict to find asylum in Switzerland.




New Zealand[edit]

New Zealand and Sri Lanka has a strong relationship since the 1800s. New Zealand has longstanding Commonwealth, migrant and sporting ties with Sri Lanka.


  • Prime Minister John Key and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon Murray McCully visited Sri Lanka for the 23rd Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2013.
  • Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs, June,August 2013
  • Sri Lankan Parliamentary Delegation attending the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference, October 1998
  • Agriculture, Lands & Forestry Minister Jayaratne, May 1996


Sri Lanka and the Commonwealth of Nations[edit]

Sri Lanka has been a member state of the Commonwealth of Nations since 1948, when it became independent as the Dominion of Ceylon.

In 1972, Ceylon became a Commonwealth republic under the name of Sri Lanka.

William Gopallawa, the last Governor-General of Ceylon became the first President of Sri Lanka.

In November 2013, Sri Lanka hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Topic: News in Bhutan other than Dzongkha and English.". KuenselOnline. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  2. ^ India's Sri Lankan scars. BBC News (4 May 2000). Retrieved 2011-11-12.
  3. ^ Brief on India-Sri Lanka Relations, Ministry of External Affairs (BSM Division: Sri Lanka)
  4. ^ Sri Lanka – Iran Bilateral Relations Embassy of Sri Lanka in Iran
  5. ^ The Group of 15 (G- 15) Government of Sri Lanka - May 14, 2010
  6. ^ Sri Lanka, Iran mutual friends - Minister Daily - February 20, 2010
  7. ^ Israeli agriculture minister visits Sri Lanka Archived 5 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka". Retrieved 2009-07-18. 
  9. ^ "Embassy of Sri Lanka in Japan". Retrieved 2009-07-18. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Official Website of High Commission of Malaysia, Colombo". Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "Sri Lanka High Commission, Kuala Lumpur". High Commission of Sri Lanka in Malaysia. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  13. ^ "High Commission of Maldives". High Commission of Maldives in Sri Lanka. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  14. ^ "Embassies of Sri Lanka". SAARC Tourism. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  15. ^ "South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation". SAARC. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  16. ^ "Sri Lanka to send emergency relief to Nepal". 25 April 2015. 
  17. ^ [1]
  18. ^ a b [2]
  19. ^ a b [3]
  20. ^ [4]
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Embassy of Czech Republic in Sri Lanka". Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  23. ^ Sri Lanka Army Equipment. Retrieved on 2013-06-09.
  24. ^ [5]
  25. ^ [6]
  26. ^ [7]
  27. ^ [8]
  28. ^ [9]
  29. ^ a b [10]
  30. ^ a b [11]
  31. ^ "Embassy and Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka". Sri Lankan Embassy in Vienna. Archived from the original on 4 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  32. ^ "List of honorary consuls in Hungary" (in Hungarian). Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  33. ^ "Consulate of the Republic of Hungary". Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  34. ^ "Bilateral Relations (Sri Lanka)". Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  35. ^ a b "Sri Lanka Poland Bilateral Relations". Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  36. ^ Felicitations to Romania
  37. ^ a b "Google Translate". Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  38. ^ Lankan Envoy to Poland passes away
  39. ^ "Foreign Minister condoles the death of Sri Lankan envoy in Poland". Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  40. ^ "Sri Lanka News-Adaderana-Truth First". Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  41. ^ "Envoys present credentials to President Patil". Thaindian News. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  42. ^ New Ambassadors and High Commissioner hand over credentials to President
  43. ^ "Sri Lanka : New ambassadors and high commissioner present credentials to Sri Lanka President". Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  44. ^ "Sri Lankan refugees leave Indonesia: official". Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  45. ^ Romanian market still untapped
  46. ^ Tea Board taps Romanian and Serbian tea markets
  47. ^ Golden opportunity to expand exports
  48. ^ UN Text of the Payments Agreement
  49. ^ UN Text of the Trade Agreement
  50. ^ UN Text of the Investment Agreement
  51. ^ "Google Translate". Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  52. ^ [12]
  53. ^ [13]
  54. ^ a b [14]
  55. ^ [15], Ministry of Foreign Affairs,New Zealand

External links[edit]