Sri Lankan President holds bilateral discussions with South Asian heads of state

Nov 10, Addu City, Maldives: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today met with the heads of state of South Asian countries participating in the 17th South Asian Association of Regional cooperation (SAARC) in the Addu City of Maldives and held bilateral discussions on issues important to the region.

In his discussions with the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Shangri La Hotel in the Addu Atoll Thursday, President Rajapaksa has discussed Sri Lanka’s ethnic issue and the alleged attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy.

The two leaders have discussed Sri Lanka’s political process for ethnic reconciliation and resettlement of displaced Tamils still remaining in camps as well as the progress on the projects funded by India in Northern Province.

President Rajapaksa met with the Prime Minister of Pakistan Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Thursday on the sidelines the Summit and discussed further expanding of bilateral relations between the two nations in different fields, especially in trade, security, culture, and public cooperation.

The President has thanked the Pakistan and Premier Gilani for returning the relics of Buddha, and said the exchange had promoted cultural relations between the two countries and enhanced the strong relations between the peoples of the two countries.

In his discussion with the Nepali Premier Baburam Bhattarai, President Rajapaksa has highlighted the importance of recommencing the air service between the two countries.

The Nepal PM has said that his Minister of Foreign Affairs is scheduled to arrive in Sri Lanka in February to discuss the necessary steps to be taken to implement the air service between Colombo and Kathmandu.

The two leaders also have agreed to appoint a committee, representing officials from both countries, to renovate Buddhist sacred places including Kusinara, Lumbini, Saranath and Bodhgaya. They have also talked about the current power and energy crisis in Nepal and solutions which could be found from the Sri Lankan model.

During discussions with the Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, the President has briefed the Afghan leader about the development brought about in the country after eliminating terrorism. Karzai has hailed Sri Lanka’s progress and called for close cooperation in the region to eliminate terrorism from the region. The two leaders have focused on enhancing bilateral ties between Colombo and Kabul in several different perspectives.

Prime Minister of Bhutan Jigme Y. Thinley also called on the Sri Lankan President on the sidelines of the Summit.

(Photos by Sudath Silva)

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