Islamabad, April 06, 2015 (PPI-OT): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had a meeting with the President of Sri Lanka, Mr. Maithripala Sirisena at the PM House here today.
Upon arrival at the Prime Minister House the President of Sri Lanka was given Guard of Honour by a smartly turned out contingent of the armed forces.
After the formal welcoming ceremony both the leaders held a one-on-one meeting which was followed by delegation level talks discussing a range of subjects.
Welcoming Mr. Sirisena on his first visit to Pakistan, the Prime Minister said Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with Sri Lanka which are most cordial and friendly. There is immense goodwill in Pakistan for Sri Lanka which should permit us to develop even more close and cooperative relations in all fields including political, economic and defense, he said.
The Prime Minister said the present volume of trade (US $ 438 million) between the two countries does not reflect the true potential and both sides should make efforts to take bilateral trade to US$ 1 billion within the next few years.
The Prime Minister said there is a need to increase exchange of visits between our two countries including exchange of parliamentary delegations.
The Prime Minister expressed the confidence that Joint Working Groups on trade, investment, automotive sector and customs cooperation will enhance economic cooperation between the two countries.
He invited Sri Lankan companies to look into investment opportunities in Pakistan, particularly in automotive and industrial sectors. There is good scope of cooperation between the two countries in the field of IT as well, he said.
Talking about cooperation in the fields of tourism and culture the Prime Minister said Pakistan is home to Buddhist Civilization and heritage and there is great potential for religious tourism between our two countries.
The Prime Minister thanked Sri Lanka for unconditional support to Pakistan’s candidatures to the Government Board of Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI) and ECOSOC, a UN body for the term 2015-18.
The Prime Minister said SAARC is an important vehicle for regional cooperation as well as for promoting peace, stability and progress.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka have had useful interaction on matters discussed under the ambit of this important regional organization, he said.
The Prime Minister said his government has taken steps for improving relations with all countries of the region including India and Afghanistan.
The President of Sri Lanka said that both countries have been friends of adversities since last six decades.
Mr. Sirisena said Pakistan and Sri Lanka have ancient links between their peoples and we need to further enhance tourism and people-to-people contact.
The President said the two countries draw strength and inspiration from the warmth of their engagement and the depth of understanding that this visit has generated for charting a more dynamic course in their relationship.
He expressed his gratitude to Pakistan for extending assistance to the country under various assistance programs.
Mr. Sirisena also invited the Prime Minister to undertake a visit to Sri Lanka at his convenience.
On this occasion following MOUs/ Agreements were signed: 1- MoU for Cooperation between Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and Atomic Energy Authority of Sri Lanka. 2- Agreement on Cooperation against Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances. 3- Academic Cooperation Agreement on Exchange and Collaboration between National Defence University of Pakistan and Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies of Sri Lanka. 4- MoU in the field of Sports. 5- MoU on Mutual Cooperation in Shipping Business between Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) and the Ceylon Shipping Corporation Ltd (CSCL). 6- MoU for Cooperation on Disaster Management.
The Prime Minister also hosted lunch in honour of the President, which was attended by Cabinet Ministers, members of parliament as well as senior government officials. Chairman Joint Chiefs of staff committee was also present on the occasion.
Other members of the delegation included Mr. Mangala Samaweera, Minister for Foreign Affairs; Mr. A.H.M. Fowzid, Minister for Disaster Management; Mr. Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister for Industry and Commerce; Mrs. Chitranganee Wagiswara, Secretary Foreign Affairs; Air Chief Marshal (Retd.) Jayalath Weerakkody, Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Pakistan; Lt. Gen. A. W.J. Crishanthe De Silva, Sri Lankan Army Commander; Mr. Mohamad Zubair, Director General, PC, Telecommunication Regulatory Commission and Mr. Dharshana Perera, Acting Director General South Asia and SAARC.
The Pakistani side comprised Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Minister for Defence; Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to PM; Eng. Khurram Dastgir, Minister for Commerce; Mr. Tariq Fatemi, SAPM; Mr. Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Foreign Secretary; Mr. Shahid Khan, Interior Secretary; Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Syed Shakeel Hussain and Pak High Commissioner in Sri Lanka along with other senior officials.
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