Pakistan, Sri Lanka agree to expand bilateral ties


Pakistan and Sri Lanka on Friday resolved to expand their ties in economic and defence sectors, saying wide-ranging measures would be taken for the purpose.
Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka Prof Gamini Lakshman Peiris called on President Asif Ali Zardari at Aiwan-e-Sadr.
“Pak-Sri Lankan bilateral relations, mutual cooperation with special reference to that of trade and other related matters were discussed during the meeting. Progress on proposed currency swap agreement for promoting and facilitating mutual trade also came under discussion,” an official statement said.
During his visit to Sri Lanka, the president had offered assistance to Sri Lanka in cement, sugar and dairy industries and had called for exploring new and unconventional phases of economic cooperation between the two countries. The currency swap agreement was thus proposed to reduce pressure on foreign exchange reserves of the two countries. The president said Pakistan valued its relations with Sri Lanka that were based on mutual respect, shared civilisation and heritage and shared perceptions on a host of issues.
He said there was a need to translate this equation into economic terms and take advantage of each other economic expertise and opportunities.
The president said by increasing synergies of our economies and reinforcing institutional framework for economic cooperation, the mutual trade volume could be significantly increased by the two countries. Prof G L Peiris thanked the president for meeting and hoped that the mutual cooperation and bilateral relations would be further strengthened with each passing day.
The Lankan foreign minister Sri Lanka also called on Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Friday. The prime minister called for deeper and wide-ranging measures to further strengthen the multifaceted Pakistan-Sri Lanka relations. He welcomed the meeting of the Joint Economic Commission after a gap of six years and stressed that regular meetings were needed for further expansion of the trade and commercial relations.
The prime minister also welcomed a meeting scheduled in August in Colombo to move ahead on the negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries. He said there was a need to cooperate with each other in education, and training of nurses and teachers. Gilani said collaboration in such sectors as cement, sugar, pharmaceuticals, gems and jewellery would add a deeper dimension to bilateral relations. The prime minister also offered to assist Sri Lanka in the preparations for hosting the Asian Games.
Gilani said both Pakistan and Sri Lanka had been victims of terrorism and remained committed to counter this threat until its elimination.
He said Pakistan strongly condemned the recent terrorist attack in Mumbai, adding that both Pakistan and India had agreed to continue with their bilateral dialogue. Gilani said Pakistan looked forward to receiving Sri Lankan President Mahindra Rajapakse in November this year as a follow up to the visit of President Zardari last year.