Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Media release

21 December 2007

Diplomatic Appointment - Ambassador to Sri Lanka

I have confirmed the appointment of Ms Kathy Klugman as Australia's new High Commissioner to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, with non-resident accreditation to the Republic of Maldives. She will succeed Dr Greg French who has been High Commissioner since December 2004. Ms Klugman is expected to take up her appointment in February 2008.

Australia and Sri Lanka share close bonds of friendship reinforced by extensive people-to-people links. Australia is home to a substantial Sri Lankan community that has made a significant contribution to our multicultural society and to the bilateral relationship.

Australia's relationship with Sri Lanka is also underpinned by commercial ties. Two‑way trade is valued at more than $230 million per annum. Food and agricultural products are Australia's main merchandise exports. Tea, spices and other food products, as well as textiles, clothing and footwear, are our main imports. Education continues to play a significant role in the relationship, with increasing numbers of Sri Lankans studying in Australia. Three Australian tertiary education providers have launched distance education facilities in Sri Lanka.

Ms Klugman’s appointment comes at a time of increasing conflict in Sri Lanka. Australia’s view is that only a negotiated and just political settlement can achieve durable peace for all Sri Lankans. Australia’s development assistance program has been focused on alleviating the effects of the conflict on communities in areas of the north and east, as well as supporting vulnerable communities in other parts of the country.

Ms Klugman is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is currently Assistant Secretary, South and West Asia Branch. Overseas, Ms Klugman has served as Deputy High Commissioner in Singapore (2005-06), Deputy High Commissioner in Colombo (1998‑2001) and Third Secretary in Vientiane (1993-95).

In Canberra, Ms Klugman has held a range of positions including Assistant Secretary, Mainland South-East Asia and South Asia Branch (2004-05) and Director, East Timor Section (2001‑03). She has also worked in the Arms Control and Counter‑Proliferation Branch (1995-98) and the Counter-Terrorism Compliance Section (1992).

Ms Klugman holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Sydney. Ms Klugman joined the public service in 1991. She will be accompanied by her partner and two children.

Media inquiries