An official welcoming ceremony was held for the Sri Lankan President upon arrival at Al-Sakhir Palace.
HM the King and President Mahinda Rajapaksa stood at the podium of honour while the national anthems of the two countries were played.
Then, HM King Hamad and President Mahinda Rajapaksa held official talks, in the presence of HRH Premier.
The two leaders reviewed ways of bolstering bilateral ties and joint cooperation in the economic, trade, investment, tourism and cultural fields.
They also discussed a number of regional and global issues of mutual concern.
HM the King welcomed the kingdom's distinguished guest, and praised the steady growth of bilateral relations in all fields.
HM King Hamad affirmed Bahrain's keenness on enhancing its friendly ties with Sri Lanka and opening up new horizons of bilateral cooperation in various fields for the common benefits of the two peoples.
He highlighted the importance of the visit, which, HM said, will consolidate joint cooperation in all fields, increase the volume of bilateral trade, provide opportunities for the private sector in both countries to enter into joint projects, noting that the kingdom has put in place an investment-friendly environment through the innumerable incentives and facilities provided for investors.
HM the King praised the key role played by the members of the Sri Lankan community in Bahrain and their contributions to its progress and development march.
The Sri Lankan President expressed sincere thanks and appreciation to HM King Hamad for the hospitality and warm welcome accorded to him and his accompanying delegation during the visit, praising the Royal interest in bolstering relations with his country.
He lauded the landmark achievements attained by the kingdom at all levels, and hailed the economic renaissance and development boom witnessed by the country thanks to HM the King's sound policies.
The two leaders attended the signing ceremony of three memoranda of Understanding (MoU).
The first MoU related to cooperation between the General Organisation for Youth and Sport (GOYS) and the Sri Lankan Sports Ministry, and was signed by the Chairman of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sport and President of the Bahrain Olympic Committee Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, on behalf of GOYS, and the Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris, on behalf of the Sri Lankan side.
The Sri Lankan External Affairs another MoU on cooperation in the cultural and artistic fields. Education Minister Dr. Majid bin Ali Al Nuaimi signed the MoU on behalf of Bahrain.
The two ministers signed another MoU on behalf of the University of Bahrain and the Colombo University in Sri Lanka on enhancing cooperation in the educational field.
Then, HM the King and President Mahinda Rajapaksa shook hands with members of the two countries' delegations.
After that, HM King Hamad delivered the following keynote speech:
"In the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
"Your Excellency Mr. President,
"Peace, mercy and God's blessings be upon you,
"We are pleased to welcome Your Excellency to the Kingdom Bahrain, and to express our utmost pride and honour in the level of our bilateral ties, which are ever-evolving towards further progress at all levels.
"We consider this visit and the recent inauguration of the Sri Lankan Embassy in Bahrain as an opportunity to enhance cooperation and rapprochement between our two friendly countries.
"Bahrain finds in its Asian dimension a possibility to establish solid relations and strategic alliances in the region, based on the common outlooks and visions of the peoples of the region, to further reinforce international security and stability and to promote economic and social wellness that meet the peoples' aspirations.
"We would also like to express our appreciation for the contributions of your kind people to the progress and prosperity of Bahrain, forming an integral part of the Bahraini social fabric, ever known for its pluralistic nature and ability to create an environment of openness and diversity that embraces all segments of society, regardless of their differences.
"We are also pleased to present Your Excellency with the Khalifia Medal, a prestigious Bahrain medal, in appreciation of Your Excellency and your friendly country in recognition of the efforts you are personally exerting to move with bilateral ties to a higher level of development and progress.
"Peace, mercy and God's blessings be upon you."
Then, HM the King conferred the "Khalifia Medal" to President Mahinda Rajapaksa in recognition of his tremendous efforts to boost Bahraini-Sri Lankan relations.
After that, the Sri Lankan President delivered the following statement:
"Your Majesty the King of Bahrain,
"Your Royal Highness the Prime Minister,
"Members of the Royal Family and the Royal court,
Hon. Members of the Shura Council and the House of Representatives
Ladies and Gentlemen.
"On Your Majesty's gracious invitation, I am extremely pleased to visit your beautiful Kingdom. I thank Your Majesty for the kind and generous welcome and for the warm hospitality extended to me, and my delegation.
The first ever State Visit of a President of Sri Lanka to the Kingdom of Bahrain is a reflection of the warmth and maturity of the relationship between our two countries.
"Your Majesty, I am humbled and honoured to receive the prestigious the Khalifia Medal, the highest honour of the Kingdom of Bahrain. This is particularly because this award celebrates the life-long dedication of the late Emir Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa to humanitarianism, and the distinct impact he had left on Bahrain and the world.
"As a young Member of Parliament, I have memories of Shaikh Isa visiting Sri Lanka to attend the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in 1976 as the Emir of the newly independent Bahrain. I believe this great leader's far-sightedness has provided a solid foundation for modern Bahrain. As an island nation in the gulf, achievements of Bahrain are remarkable and impressive. The Bahrain International Formula One Circuit has elevated the stature of your Kingdom across the seas.
"I am aware that under Your Majesty's visionary leadership, Bahrain has achieved rapid economic growth and significant improvement in the quality of life of your people. I share Your Majesty's philosophy, that a nation's citizens should be empowered, to contribute effectively to the economic growth of the country. This very tenet is encompassed in my policies for economic development of Sri Lanka.
"Sri Lanka, as an Island nation in the Indian Ocean, has been able to embark on a rapid and robust journey to growth since the end of the 3 decade long struggle against terrorism. My country now stands undivided, under one flag, committed to achieving sustainable economic prosperity, shared by all communities.
"Your Majesty, Sri Lanka's decision to open a new Mission in Manama last year was based on our prioritized policy to work closely with like-minded countries in this region. With Bahrain, we seek to build an enhanced dynamic partnership. Several business leaders of my country have accompanied me on this visit to explore the considerable potential for the expansion of economic relations, between our two countries.
"The kind words, gracious hospitality and warm interactions will leave enduring and fond memories of this state visit, for me and my delegation, which undoubtedly will translate into active cooperation, between our two countries. It is, therefore with great pleasure that I wish Your Majesty, good health, happiness and long life; peace and prosperity to the people of Bahrain and, stronger Bahraini-Sri Lanka relations.
HM King Hamad hosted, in the presence of HRH Premier, a lunch banquet in honour of the Sri Lankan President and his accompanying delegation.
Minister of External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris, Minister of Industry and Commerce Mr. Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Mr. Dilan Perera, Deputy Minister of Labor and Labor Relations Mr. Sarath Weerasekara, Provincial Council Member Mr. Nauzer Fowzi, Secretary to the President Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Bahrain Mr. Anura Rajakaruna and a number of members of the business delegation also joined parts of the event.
Courtesy: bna.bh/HC/Pix By : Sudath Silva