- Published on Monday, 01 July 2013 01:43
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Sri Lanka and Seychelles signed three agreements today (30) following bilateral discussions between President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is currently on a two-day state visit to Seychelles and his Seychelles counterpart James Alix Michel. The agreements signed were bilateral air-service agreement, MOU on vocational training and youth development and MOU on defense cooperation between the two countries.
Bilateral discussions between the leaders of Sri Lanka and Seychelles were held at the State House in Seychelles. “May the cooperation between our two countries be an example to the world. Both our countries are island nations. “Therefore we must make sure our voice is heard. We have already set an example in the area of climate change. We can be a role model to the world,” President of Seychelles James Alix Michel said during the discussion.
President Rajapaksa's visit laid a solid foundation to the bilateral relation between Sri Lanka and Seychelles; President Michel said adding that President Rajapaksa is an exemplary leader. While commending Sri Lanka for progressing on the path of reconciliation under the leadership of President Rajapaksa, the Seychelles President said there is an immense opportunity for economic and trade relations between the two countries at a time Africa is opening up.
Visit to Sri Lanka by President Michel was a landmark in bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Seychelles, President Rajapaksa said. It is a great honor to be the first Sri Lankan leader to visit Seychelles, he added. President Rajapaksa was of the view that visits of this nature will further enhance south-south cooperation. President while noting a positive growth in trade between the two countries announced that a branch of Bank of Ceylon will be open in Seychelles. Commencing direct flights between Sri Lanka and Seychelles is specially important because it paves the way to consolidate the friendship between peoples of two the countries.
Apprising his Seychelles counterpart of the current situation in Sri Lanka, President Rajapaksa said “now the 30-year long war is over. Sri Lanka now enjoys durable peace and stability.” He explained the activities relating to resettlement of the Internally Displaces Persons in the North of Sri Lanka, restoration of infrastructure facilities destroyed by terrorists, rehabilitation and reintegration of combatants, releasing child soldiers just after a month with the end of the conflict and various ongoing development projects after the end of the conflict.
President Rajapaksa also elaborated on the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. The government had so far spent USD 300 million only for the development of North. “Elections to the Northern Provincial Councils will be held this year. I have made the promise to the people of my country, not to the international community,” he added.
The discussion also focused on several other areas of mutual interest including fisheries, education, culture, tourism, health and renewable energy. President Michel commended the assistance of Sri Lanka in recruiting teachers and said Sri Lanka provides “best teachers.”
When President Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka awaits to welcome Seychelles to CHOGM 2013, President Michel said “Sri Lanka is a true and sincere friend. We will continue to support you at international fora.”
Vice President of Seychelles Danny Faure and several other ministers, and Minister of External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris, Minister of Sports Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Minister of Public Relations & Public Affairs Mervyn Silva, Monitoring MP of the Ministry of External Affairs Sajin Vaas De Gunawardena, Members of Parliament Lohan Ratwatte and Lakshman Wasantha Perera, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal were also present at the discussion.