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Monday, 13 February 2012

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President’s Pakistan state visit takes ties to a new high

President Mahinda Rajapaksa returned to the country yesterday following a two day state visit to Pakistan. The President paid a state visit to Pakistan on the invitation of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. He had extensive talks with President Zardari during the brief stay. The President also met Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani for bilateral discussions.

Both the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan hosted banquets in honour of President Rajapaksa.

During bilateral discussions President Rajapaksa on behalf of himself and the people of Sri Lanka expressed his deepest appreciation to the government of Pakistan for the support rendered to defeat the three decade long terrorist conflict in Sri Lanka.

Also during discussions held between the leaders, the two countries reached consensus on ways to further strengthen their bilateral relations and to promote peace and security in the region and the world.

A joint communique issued in Islamabad Saturday following the talks between the leaders of the two countries said the talks were held in a “friendly and cordial atmosphere and were marked by full trust and complete understanding.”

Following the discussions Sri Lanka and Pakistan signed three Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

President Mahinda Rajapaksa during his stay also visited the Thakshila Museum in Punjab on Saturday. On the occasion he paid homage to the Buddha relics, the ancient Buddha statues and the sapling of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi (which was offered to India in 1964 from Sri Lanka) housed in the museum premises.

On the occasion the people of Punjab conveyed their appreciation to the President for his prompt action in sending a team of medical specialist from Sri Lanka to help local authorities in controlling the dengue epidemic which prevailed in the province recently, the President’s media said.

In the joint communique both sides expressed their complete satisfaction on the outcome of the state visit by the Sri Lankan President to Pakistan and described it as a another milestone in the joint endeavours of the two countries to take Pakistan-Sri Lanka relations to new heights.

Minister of External Affairs Prof G.L Peiris, deputy ministers Duminda Dissanayake and Faizer Mustapha, MP Sajin Vass Gunawardena, Secretary to the President, Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary Ministry of External Affairs Karunatilaka Amunugama also participated in the occasion.

Meanwhile, an earlier report states... Leaders of Pakistan and Sri Lanka on Saturday agreed on establishing high level partnerships in trade, finance and banking, security, tourism, sports, healthcare, agriculture, education and culture for the mutual benefit of their people.

These understandings were reached during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s state visit to Pakistan from February 10 to 11 on the invitation of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

In a joint statement, both sides expressed their complete satisfaction on the outcome of the state visit by President Rajapaksa to Pakistan.

The statement said that the visit constituted another milestone in the joint endeavours of the two countries to take Pakistan - Sri Lanka relations to new heights.

Some of the key agreements included both sides’ commitment to make special efforts to increase the bilateral trade to over $ 2 billion by 2015, from the current US $ 375 million.

Both sides also agreed to promote financial and banking sector co-operation including opening of bank branches and trading in local currencies.

The two countries had also expressed satisfaction on the defence and security cooperation.

The statement said that the two sides reached broad consensus on ways and means to further strengthen their bilateral co-operation in a comprehensive manner and on their common endeavours for promoting peace and security in the region and the world.

The two countries also signed three MoU’s for Co-operation in the Field of Media, to promote Tertiary and Vocational Education and on a credit line up of $ 200 million.

The full text of the joint statement: “On the invitation of President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, paid a state visit to Pakistan from February 10 t0 12 .

President Mahinda Rajapaksa was accorded a warm welcome. He held talks with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani. Both the President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan hosted banquets in honour of the visiting Sri Lankan President.

The Sri Lankan President also visited Taxila, which was the first centre of Buddhist learning and a testimony to Pakistan’s rich Gandhara heritage.

“The talks between the leaders of Sri Lanka and Pakistan were held in a friendly and cordial atmosphere and were marked by full trust and complete understanding. Both sides reached broad consensus on ways and means to further strengthen their bilateral cooperation in a comprehensive manner and on their common endeavours for promoting peace and security in the region and the world.

“Both sides underscored the importance that they attached to the special bonds of affinity that existed between the two countries, which were based on their rich historical and cultural interactions as well as the shared aspirations of their people for peace, progress and prosperity.

“Both sides agreed to hold frequent summit level meetings,promote parliamentary exchanges and enhance the process of consultations, cooperation and coordination between their respective institutions.

“Both sides attached importance to the Free Trade Agreement between Pakistan and Sri Lanka and considered this to be a valuable instrument to optimally utilize their considerable economic potential.

They expressed satisfaction on the work of their Joint Economic Commission in taking all requisite steps to enhance two-way trade. It was agreed to make special efforts to increase the bilateral trade to over $ 2 billion by 2015.

“Both sides also agreed to promote financial and banking sector cooperation. It was agreed that the governors of their Central Banks will take all requisite steps to promoting such cooperation, including the opening of bank branches and trading in local currencies.

“Both sides also agreed to create an enabling environment to facilitate and to provide incentives to their private sectors to develop mutually-beneficial project cooperation and joint ventures.

“Both sides also agreed to give further impetus to their cooperation in the fields of education, science and technology,

healthcare, agriculture, tourism, sporting contacts, cultural exchanges and people to people contacts. Both sides also agreed to prioritize cooperation in the field of gems and jewellery.

“The Pakistani side offered training facilities in the field of banking, information technology, engineering and medical sciences to Sri Lanka.

“Both sides would also develop institutional links between their universities and research institutions.

“Both sides expressed satisfaction on the defence and security cooperation.

“Both sides also agreed to take steps to enhance air and sea connectivity including joint ventures between their respective shipping corporations.

“The Prime Minister of Pakistan and the President of Sri Lanka witnessed the signing of the following agreements/MoUs: MoU for Cooperation in the Field of Media between the Ministry of Mass Media and Information of Sri Lanka and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of Pakistan; MoU between Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission of Sri Lanka and National Vocational and Technical Education Commission of

Pakistan; MoU between the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka on a credit line up to a sum of US$ 200 million.

“Pakistan expressed its gratitude and thanks to the Sri Lankan government for its valuable assistance in coping and containing the outbreak of the dengue fever in Pakistan last year.

“Both sides agreed to continue their cooperation in regional and international foras and to work together to promoting regional cooperation under the SAARC auspices.

“Both sides expressed their complete satisfaction on the outcome of the state visit by the Sri Lankan President to Pakistan, which constituted another milestone in the joint endeavours of the two countries to take Pakistan - Sri Lanka relations to new heights.”

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