ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Minister of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Rohitha Bogollagama, who is in three-day visit to Pakistan for bilateral consultations called on Foreign Minister Inam ul Haque and discussed with him bilateral, regional and international issues. The Ministers noted the similarity of views on issues of promotion of peace, regional stability and socio-economic progress. They also affirmed their resolve to further strengthen the already existing bilateral cooperation in various fields including trade, education, culture, tourism and defence between the two countries.
Mr. Bogollagama briefed the Foreign Minister on the latest developments in Sri Lanka including the efforts of the Sri Lankan government to fight terrorism. The Foreign Minister expressed support for the efforts of Sri Lanka for consolidation of peace and preservation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty. The two Ministers expressed their resolve to combat extremism and terrorism for preserving shared global values of peace, progress and prosperity. The Foreign Minister briefed Mr. Bogollagama on the efforts made by Pakistan to ensure free, fair and transparent elections on February 18, 2008.
The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister appreciated the steps taken by Pakistan to promote democracy and hoped that Pakistan will continue to march on the road to progress and peace as a result of these elections. The Ministers also reviewed the progress made in strengthening trade and economic cooperation since the bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was signed. Inam ul Haque stressed the need to expand the scope of the existing FTA by including trade in services, investment and trade facilitation.
The two Ministers agreed on the need to work together to achieve the target of one billion US dollar in bilateral trade in the next few years. Discussions also covered some specific areas for trade promotion, joint ventures and investments. The Ministers agreed on the need to increase people to people contacts by focusing on religious tourism from Sri Lanka to various Buddhist sites in Pakistan. Need for increasing the air links between the two countries was also emphasized. The Ministers also agreed for collective and collaborative efforts at regional and global issues both at SAARC and other international fora including at the United Nations.-SANA