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Sri Lankan Minister of External Affairs, Prof. G.L. Peiris, arrived in Islamabad last night on a two-day visit to Pakistan. During his stay he called on President Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Mr. Mohammad Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Mr. Ishaq Dar and met with Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security & Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sartaj Aziz. The purpose of his visit was to hand over a letter from Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse, inviting Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif and his spouse to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in November in Colombo. A similar letter of invitation was also extended to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to participate in the Commonwealth Business Forum, which would be held on the sidelines of CHOGM.

During his call on Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, the Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister also conveyed on behalf of the Sri Lankan President, warm felicitations to the Prime Minister, government and people of Pakistan on the recent general elections and on his assumption to the office of Prime Minister. He updated the Prime Minister on the progress being made by his government to achieve post-war reconciliation as well as rehabilitation of those affected by the war. He expressed Sri Lanka’s gratitude for Pakistan’s continuing support in the rehabilitation efforts through a number of programmes. He was thankful to the Government of Pakistan for its support and commitment to Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council and UN Security Council. The Prime Minister, while reciprocating the warm sentiments conveyed by the President of Sri Lanka, stated that he looked forward to attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo in November 2013 and interacting with the Sri Lankan leadership.

The Prime Minister also expressed Pakistan’s strong support and desire to work closely with Sri Lanka on the platform of Commonwealth. While, that Pakistan deeply valued its relations with Sri Lanka which are characterized by cordiality and friendship, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of deepening and broadening these ties by further increasing trade as well as investments. Noting that the present volume of trade between the two countries, despite the FTA of 2002, did not reflect the true potential, the Prime Minister believed that there was a need to focus on enhancing economic cooperation which would add to the progress and prosperity of both countries. This, in turn would ensure regional security and stability, fundamental for fighting poverty and promoting economic growth and development. Therefore there was a need to renew efforts to realize the goal of achieving US $ 2 billion bilateral trade.

Elaborating on his vision for a peaceful and prosperous region, the Prime Minister stated that security and stability in the neighbourhood was his government’s prime objective and he considered Sri Lanka a key partner in this regard.

August 23, 2013

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