NZ to open Sri Lankan High Commission

diplomatic-passportNew Zealand is set to open a High Commission in Sri Lanka next year to cement ties and increase business between the two countries.

Prime Minister John Key made the announcement after meeting with Sri Lanka’s visiting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at Government House in Auckland today.

Both countries have committed to reducing tariffs on goods, especially dairy, though Key said he wasn’t seeking to put Sri Lankan farmers out of business.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, Trade Minister Todd McClay and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy will be attending talks.

Amnesty International has pressured Key to discuss human rights with Wickremesinghe during the talks, pointing out that Sir Lankan security forces have been implicated in tens of thousands of disappearances.

Executive director of Amnesty New Zealand Grant Bayldon wants Key to push for Sri Lanka to repeal its Prevention of Terrorism Act which “is basically a license to abduct and torture people.”

“It also needs a law to make disappearances illegal, and it needs to work much harder to investigate those disappearances,” Bayldon said.

Animal rights group SAFE wants the Prime Minister to reject Sri Lanka’s offer of another elephant to join the breeding programme at Auckland Zoo.

Wickremesinghe’s itinerary includes a visit to Fonterra’s dairy factory in Waikato, followed by a tour of Hobbiton.

In Wellington, he’ll attend a wreath-laying ceremony and will be given a tour of bird sanctuary Zealandia. (News Talk)

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