Feb 05 (JP) As his country celebrates 60 years of diplomatic ties with Indonesia, Sri Lankan Ambassador to Indonesia, Maj. Gen. Nanda Mallawaarachchi underlined a sense of confidence in reaching a more productive relationship with Indonesia.
Mallawaarachchi said the relationship went beyond contemporary history. Without mentioning the year, he noted that an Indonesian king had visited Sri Lanka many years ago, bringing a baby elephant as a gift.
"[That is why] The genes [of Sri Lankan elephants] are very similar to elephants in Sumatra."
The ambassador was joined by Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar and Deputy Foreign Minister Wardana to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Sri Lankan independence and the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations between Indonesia and Sri Lanka on Monday.
The two veterans of the Non-Aligned Movement came together at a time when both countries are enjoying economic growth rates of more than 6 percent each.
Last year, the Sri Lanka-Indonesia Business Council announced a goal of US$1 billion in bilateral trade between the countries by 2015. In 2012, that figure stood at around $450 million.
Despite it being an increase of over 100 percent in a short time, both governments were confident they could reach the goal. "We will reach the target with confidence," Listyowati, the Foreign Ministry's director of Central and South Asian affairs, added.
Mallawaarachchi also shared the same confidence. "It's a big increase, but because of the strength of the Indonesian economy, we believe it is within reach."
Malintha Fernando, who heads the Indonesian office of the Sri Lankan government-owned airline Mihin Lanka, says Indonesian customers are now a core part of the company's business.
"We've increased flights out of Jakarta to Sri Lanka over the last few years, and there is demand for more."
Indonesians completing haj make up many of the passengers stopping in Sri Lanka, and Fernando said it was encouraging to see many people spending a day or two visiting Sri Lanka.
The anniversary celebrations were marked with energetic and colorful traditional Sri Lankan dancing, and famous tea from the South Asian nation was served to the various diplomats and businesspeople present.