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Government Gazette

Sri Lanka, Iran mutual friends - Minister

Sri Lanka and Iran have maintained mutually beneficial and fruitful bonds of friendship and cooperation since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1962 and in recent times the ties have expanded considerably in political, economic and cultural fields.

Minister M H Mohamed

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M.H. Mohamed declared so representing the government at the function held at Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel in Colombo on Thursday marking the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

The Minister in the course of his speech recalled that the President of Sri Lanka and the President of Iran had exchanged visits in 2007 and 2008 and that both of them had stressed their firm commitment to further enhance the mutual cooperation in the political, economic, trade, cultural, educational, scientific and technological fields. The visits resulted in the signing of agreements and Memorandum of Understandings between the two countries in the fields of power supply and irrigation as well and the expansion of the oil refinery facilities in Sri Lanka. The agreements for operationalising the Uma Oya Multipurpose Development Project and the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery Project are now in progress with the assistance of the Islamic Republic of Iran, he said.

Minister Mohamed also pointed out that the reflection of the increase in contacts between the two countries was due to the specific focus placed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on expanding ties between Sri Lanka and Iran since his assumption of office in 2005 and Iran continues to extend invaluable support for the socio-economic development of Sri Lanka.

Speaking on the occasion Islamic Republic of Iran Ambassador Mahmoud Rahimi Gorji, said that the people of Iran were proud of the fact that they were able to preserve their centuries old traditions and values and uphold their sense of independence and national identity. The country has made noteworthy advances over the years, especially with regard to eradicating illiteracy, economic growth, widening the scope of higher education and achieving vast advances in the areas of scientific technology, industry, mine and energy, he said.

The Ambassador added that Iran had also pursued its own independent foreign policy. Peaceful co existence, promotion of bilateral relations and extensive regional and international cooperation had been the corner stone of Iran's foreign policy. While establishing constructive and interactive relations with most countries, Iran also played an active role in various international and regional institutions, he said.

Touching upon Iran-Sri Lanka relations the Iranian envoy said that he felt happy to note that the relations between the two countries had been close and productive and that the ties had further expanded in recent times with new avenues of cooperation generated. Referring to the launching of the Uma Oya Project with Iranian funding amounting to USD 500 million the Ambassador said that the project would stand as a lasting testimony to Iran-Sri Lanka friendship. There is also the Rural Electrification project in Sri Lanka costing USD 106 million providing electricity to about 1,000 villages and a housing project in the Batticaloa district for which a grant of USD 1.5 million was to be provided by Iran, the envoy said.

Congratulating President Mahinda Rajapaksa over his receiving a strong mandate for a second term in office the Iranian Ambassador wished the President every success in his effort to reconstruct and develop the country.


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