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Third Round of Political Consultations between the Foreign Secretaries of Sri Lanka and Pakistan were held on 4th April 2013 in Colombo. The Sri Lanka delegation was led by Mr. Karunatilaka Amunugama, Secretary, External Affairs of Sri Lanka and the Pakistan delegation was led by Mr. Jalil Abbas Jilani, Foreign Secretary of Pakistan. The two sides had discussions on a wide range of issues based on mutual respect and understanding.

During the three day visit, Foreign Secretary H.E. Mr. Jalil Abbas Jilani called on H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka, Hon. Prof. G.L Peiris, Minister of External Affairs, Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, Hon. Seyed Alavi Mowlana, Governor, Western Province and Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Secretary of the Ministry of Defence & Urban Development.

The two Foreign Secretaries reaffirmed the close and friendly relations existing between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and agreed on the need to further foster these relations between the governments and the peoples in a mutually beneficial manner. The Foreign Secretaries particularly sought multi-sectoral cooperation in the field of trade, education, culture and defence. The deliberations were held in a friendly and constructive spirit.

Mr. Karunatilaka Amunugama briefed his Pakistani counterpart on current developments in Sri Lanka including the efforts on rehabilitation, reconciliation and resettlement in post-war conflict areas with progress in the implementation of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. Sri Lanka expressed appreciation for the steadfast support received from Pakistan in international fora particularly at the recently concluded UNHRC session in Geneva in countering the elements that undermine the reconciliation process. Pakistan reaffirmed its continued support for Sri Lanka at international fora. Sri Lanka also appreciated the development assistance provided by the Government and the people of Pakistan in its efforts to rebuild conflict-affected areas.

The two sides reviewed the ongoing bilateral cooperation in multi – faceted areas including economic development, scientific cooperation, cultural matters, agriculture, education, defence, disaster management, air services negotiations and civil nuclear cooperation. Improvement of trade relations, addressing issues of the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement and increasing investment in various sectors were also discussed. Further the Secretaries of the two countries agreed to request the Commerce Secretaries of both countries to meet early and to address the outstanding issues with the intention of increasing the volume of trade between the two countries.

Both sides noted with satisfaction the continuation of the Cultural Exchange Programme for 2012-2017 with an aim of enhancing people to people contacts and stressed the need to effectively implement the provisions of the same. Both sides emphasized the importance of enhancing air connectivity. In this regard, both agreed towards upgrading the existing Air Services Agreement which is being negotiated by the two Civil Aviation Authorities. This would act as a catalyst to improve trade and realize the full potential of the FTA, promote tourism and foster people to people interactions.

Both sides expressed their resolve and commitment to extend assistance in the event of natural disasters and calamities. The leaders of the delegations finalized the proposed agreement on cooperation in the field of Disaster Management for signing at an early date while reiterating the need for continuing cooperation in the field of Disaster Management.

Sri Lanka expressed appreciation for the scholarships provided by Pakistan in various fields of education and in training of diplomats in the Foreign Service Institute of Pakistan. In return Pakistan reciprocated its appreciation for the scholarships provided by the Government of Sri Lanka for its nationals. Pakistan offered scholarships in Agricultural Studies for Sri Lankan students in specialized Universities of Pakistan. Sri Lanka expressed its interest to provide assistance to Pakistan in training personnel in health, gems and jewellery sectors which was welcomed by Pakistan. It was agreed to further diversify and strengthen existing collaboration in the field of education.

Both sides reaffirmed their resolve to strengthen cooperation in countering terrorism and transnational crimes in a comprehensive manner. It was agreed to continue the cooperation with renewed vigour which includes training of defence personnel.

Both sides agreed to continue collaboration towards furthering regional cooperation. An exchange of views took place on a range of issues, including the regional security situation as well as matters of mutual interest within the SAARC framework.

Both sides also agreed to further strengthen the existing friendly relations by exchanges of visits at all levels.

It was agreed that the Foreign Secretary-level consultations had been a useful and constructive exercise, and both sides confirmed their commitment towards holding these meetings regularly.

05 April 2013

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