Malcolm Turnbull

Australia-Sri Lanka ties 'taking off': PM

Malcolm Turnbull and his Sri Lankan counterpart have witnessed the signing of a new agreement aimed at boosting economic ties between the two countries.

Australia will give Sri Lanka three of its boats to help boost maritime security, and lend military and police expertise in a bid to boost co-operation between the two countries.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made the offers during a whirlwind three-hour stop in Colombo on his way home from Israel.

He met with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday morning before holding talks with President Maithripala Sirisen.

Three Stabicraft vessels have been promised to the Sri Lankan Coast Guard, while Australian Federal Police will assist local counter-drugs and people-smuggling efforts.

A senior Australian military officer will also be seconded to Sri Lanka's proposed National Defence College from 2018.

Mr Turnbull and Mr Wickremesinghe witnessed the signing of a new agreement for regular senior officials' talks on trade and investment.

Trade between the two countries is approaching $1 billion and with opportunities in energy, agriculture, education and tourism, the leaders believe the economic relationship is ready to "take off".

Mr Turnbull's fleeting visit coincided with the 70th anniversary of bilateral relations.

He squeezed it in before his trip to Perth to meet Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, amid a political firestorm over dual citizenship following the resignation of Liberal senator Stephen Parry.

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