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    Focus: Countering extremism, drug menace, regional peace

    December 08, 2019

    President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was met by several foreign dignitaries and heads of missions expressing goodwill and well wishes from their respective governments last week.Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat on Monday (2) afternoon.

    He expressed Pakistan’s keen interest in further strengthening bilateral relations with Sri Lanka, especially in the areas of economic development, trade, security cooperation and regional cooperation. “We already have very close, friendly and warm relations with Sri Lanka. Pakistan hopes to further develop them widening the scope of cooperation,” he said.
    Minister Qureshi said his government is willing to work with Sri Lanka to conserve and develop the Buddhist heritage found in his country, adding, “We are eagerly waiting for your visit to Pakistan at your earliest.”President Rajapaksa said he looked forward to continuous and enhanced growth in trade and investments on a mutually beneficial basis referring to betel exports to Pakistan as an example.
    The President also stressed his expectation of collaboration in eradicating narcotic drug menace which he said was a grave evil ‘my country is confronted with’. President Rajapaksa also requested the government of Pakistan to help Sri Lanka in the fight against Islamic extremism.
    The Canadian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka David McKinnon also called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the President’s Office to extend his greetings to the President on behalf of the Government of Canada. A Chinese President’s Special Envoy, Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Wu Jianghao met President Rajapaksa also on Monday. Wu Jianghao is a Special Representative of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China and has previously served as an Ambassador to Sri Lanka.
    The Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Sri Lanka Ahmad Ali Al Mualla who paid a courtesy call on the President on Tuesday (3) at the Presidential Secretariat assured his country’s commitment to further enhance bilateral relations between the two countries while assuring ‘optimum assistance’ to make the President’s new plan of action a success.A delegation headed by the New Zealand High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Joanna Kempkers also called on President Rajapaksa on Tuesday (3).
    The Maldivian Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat on Thursday (5).Minister Shahid extended warm greetings, on his and the Maldivian President Mohomad Solih’s behalf, to President Rajapaksa on his election to the office of the President of Sri Lanka. While expressing satisfaction over the status of relations between the two nations, the Maldivian Minister stressed the need for enhancing not only the bilateral cooperation but also the regional cooperation.

    Both the Sri Lankan President and the visiting Minister agreed that the Indian Ocean must remain free and open for all nations for their economic upliftment.“It was Sri Lanka that proposed the Indian Ocean be declared as a zone of peace in the early 70s,’’ the President reflected. The Australian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka David Holly called on the President on Friday (6) to extend his and his government’s greetings to President Rajapaksa. The Australian High Commissioner said he will facilitate Australia’s highest possible support to Sri Lanka which is on a trajectory with a new vision.



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