Manama: Bahrain has welcomed a decision by Sri Lanka to open an embassy in Manama to serve its nationals and to help boost bilateral relations.
“The embassy in Manama will help foster diplomatic relations and coordination in various areas and will also serve the interests of the Sri Lankan community in Bahrain,” Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, the foreign minister, said at a meeting with Gamini Lakshman Peiris, the Sri Lankan minister of external affairs in New York.
Shaikh Khalid has directed officials in the kingdom to take the necessary measures to speed up the establishment of the embassy.
Around 15,000 Sri Lankans, including 3,000 domestic helpers, are believed to live in Bahrain, making them one of the largest foreign communities in the country.
The community has a club that has been regularly used as a venue for consular services and open days conducted by officials from the Sri Lankan embassy in Kuwait.
However, the size of the community and the volume of the required services meant that a full diplomatic mission was needed to address all the issues, mainly legal matters related to the labour sector.
Talk in the past about opening an embassy in Bahrain has not materialised and the community remained dependent on consular services at the Sri Lanka Club.
Peiris is most likely to be in Bahrain in December to attend the Manama Dialogue, the international security forum that brings decision makers from several countries to discuss issues related to the region.
Shaikh Khalid extended the invitation to Peiris to attend the annual event and the Sri Lankan minister said that he was keen on visiting Bahrain and gain better insights into the economic freedom and commercial opportunities it offers, the official Bahrain News Agency (BNA) said.
Peiris said that he hoped Shaikh Khalid would accept his invitation to visit Sri Lanka and learn more about its economic components and opportunities.