Sri Lanka firmly behind Palestinian people - FM
Sri Lanka is firmly behind the Palestinian people, Foreign Minister
Rohitha Bogollagama told Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani at the
Emiri Diwan (Royal Palace) in Doha on Sunday.
Minister Bogollagama briefed the Emir of Qatar on current
developments in Sri Lanka stating that the LTTE was on rapid retreat
militarily and no longer enjoyed the goodwill of the Tamil people who he
said had been alienated from the national democratic and development
agenda for an extended period of time by the LTTE.
He underlined that the current military campaign of the Sri Lankan
security forces had a zero tolerance policy on civilian casualty.
Referring to developments in the Eastern Province, the Minister said
that following the defeat of the LTTE in the Province, democracy had
taken strong root and the rule of law was very much in evidence there.
Minister Bogollagama said that as a result of the restoration of
democracy in the Eastern Province, a former child soldier,
Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, is the Chief Minister of the Province
while the one time Number Two in the LTTE, Karuna Amman, is a Member of
Despite having to deal with terrorism, the Foreign Minister said that
Sri Lanka had consistently posted a six per cent growth rate during the
last five years thus demonstrating the remarkable resilience of the
Responding to an inquiry from the Emir, Minister Bogollagama said
that there were plenty of opportunities for Qatar to invest in Sri
Lanka’s infrastructure development plan with particular reference to the
improvement of the road network and the urban slum clearance program.
His Highness the Emir requested for project proposals in this regard
for consideration by the Qatar Investment Fund.
Referring to opportunities available for the Qatari private sector,
Minister Bogollagama said that much scope existed in the areas of trade,
investment, tourism and petroleum exploration. As regards trade, he
stated that Qatari businessmen could base their operations in Sri Lanka
and avail themselves of Sri Lanka’s Free Trade Agreements with India and
Pakistan and also the GSP+ concessions granted to the country by the
The Foreign Minister restated the concerns of the Government of Sri
Lanka in regard to the ongoing crisis in Gaza and said that President
Mahinda Rajapaksa had expressed the sympathies and support of the
Government and the people of Sri Lanka to Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas and called all parties to the conflict to observe a ceasefire
which would reduce the prevailing tension and lead to a conducive
environment for negotiations. Sri Lanka, the Minister said, was firmly
behind the Palestinian people in their hour of need.
The Foreign Minister agreed to support Qatar’s application for
Observer status in the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional
Corporation and in turn was assured of Qatar’s support for Sri Lanka’s
membership in the Organization of Islamic Countries.
The current bilateral visit of Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama
to the State of Qatar is the first by a Sri Lankan Foreign Minister