I will visit Sri Lanka from 4-7 April.  This will be my first visit to Sri Lanka as Minister for International Development and the Pacific and the first visit by an Australian Portfolio Minister to the country since November 2013.

Sri Lanka is a long-standing economic and development partner.  This year, we celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations.

Our $80 million aid program over four years is entering a new phase.  It is focused on developing skills, creating market opportunities for small business, supporting economic reform and empowering women in the workforce and trade and economic opportunities which in turn will reduce the need for aid in the future.

In Colombo, I will launch a new $15 million program over four years ‘Women in Work’ which will cooperate with Sri Lankan businesses to create extra and better jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities, for women.

I will meet some of the 1,000 Sri Lankans who have received scholarships to study in Australia and meet students who have benefited from Australia’s support for Sri Lanka’s education system.  Access to education, plus growth and prosperity, will ultimately assist the peace process in Sri Lanka and lead to greater regional security for Australia.

I will launch a photographic exhibition that celebrates 70 years of partnership with Sri Lanka, our strong people-to-people links and highlights some of the many positive results of our development cooperation.

I will also visit Northern Province to see the impact of the $250 million Australia has contributed toward reconciliation and reconstruction since the end of the conflict in 2009.

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