COLOMBO: Pakistan on Wednesday offered $50 million new credit line to Sri Lanka for cooperation in the field of defence and security.
The announcement was made by Prime Minister Imran Khan who concluded his two-day official visit to the island nation, said the Joint Communique issued by the foreign ministries of the two countries from Colombo and Islamabad.
“The two sides stressed the need for stronger partnership for supporting and coordinating with each other in dealing with matters related to security, terrorism, organized crime and drug and narcotic trafficking as well as intelligence-sharing,” the Communique read.
The two sides expressed satisfaction over the existing bilateral cooperation in the field of defence and noted that the elevation of staff-level talks to Defence Dialogue had provided an opportunity to expand security sector relations. To strengthen sports diplomacy, Pakistan will provide Rs 52 million for promotion of sports in Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister Imran Khan at an interactive session with the sports community of Sri Lanka announced the commissioning of the ‘Imran Khan High Performance Sports Centre’ in Colombo. Pakistan also announced to establish Asian Civilization and Culture Centre at University of Peradeniya at the Sri Lankan resort Kandy.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka have agreed on a broad consensus on ways and means to further strengthen cooperation in diverse fields and promote high-level and delegation-level exchanges.
This was the first visit by the Prime Minister of Pakistan to Sri Lanka since the formation of the new governments in both the countries, clearly reflecting the warmth and goodwill between the governments and peoples of the two countries.
During the visit, Prime Minister Imran Khan held delegation-level meetings with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka. Both sides comprehensively reviewed the multifaceted bilateral relationship in diverse fields of cooperation.
“The talks were held in a warm and cordial atmosphere, marked by mutual trust and respect. The visit afforded a timely opportunity to both sides to further build upon their close and regular consultations, particularly in the areas identified during the recently held Foreign Secretary-level Bilateral Political Consultations, Joint Economic Commission session, and the Commerce Secretaries-level Talks,” the Joint Communique said.
Pakistan announced 100 scholarships in the field of medicines (MBBS and BDS) as part of the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Higher Education Cooperation Programme (PSLHECP). Both sides reached broad consensus on ways and means to further strengthen cooperation in a comprehensive manner and agreed to hold frequent meetings, promote high-level and delegation-level exchanges and enhance the process of consultations.
Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated Pakistan’s support for the socio-economic development of Sri Lanka in line with the vision of a “peaceful neighborhood”. The two sides reviewed the extensive engagement that exists between the two countries in promoting cultural linkages, human resource development, and capacity building in diverse areas as well as educational and technical cooperation.
Realizing the existence of great potential of religious tourism to Buddhist archeological sites and noting the close ancient and cultural ties dating back to Gandhara civilization, the two sides underscored the importance of enhancing cooperation in the field of tourism and highlighted the benefits of sharing expertise in the hospitality industry, including training and capacity building.
At the high-level Pakistan-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Conference held in Colombo, the two countries stressed the importance of realizing the goal of achieving US$1 billion bilateral trade target and also agreed to work towards broadening and deepening of Pakistan Sri Lank Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
The Memoranda of Understanding signed during the visit include i) MoU on Cooperation in Tourism, ii) MoU between the Boards of Investment, iii)MoU between Industrial Technology Institute (ITI), Sri Lanka and International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences, University of Karachi Islamic Republic of Pakistan, iv) Intent of Cooperation between Industrial Technology Institute of Sri Lanka and COMSATS University Islamabad and v) MoU between University of Colombo, Sri Lanka and Lahore School of Economics, Pakistan.
Prime Minister Imran Khan and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa jointly acknowledged the reconstitution of the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Association. Both sides underlined the importance of inter-religious dialogue and harmony as a key to promote cultural diversity, peaceful co-existence and mutual empathy.
The two sides noted the close cooperation between the two countries at regional and international fora on issues of mutual interest, and agreed to further strengthen a coordinated approach on such matters. Both sides stressed the need to convene the Charter Based bodies and agreed to take forward the SAARC process for further strengthening regional cooperation to achieve prosperity in the region.
Discussing the developments in regional and global environment the two sides reaffirmed their joint commitment to regional peace, security and stability. Prime Minister Imran Khan underscored the need for peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes through constructive dialogue in accordance with international legitimacy.
In the context of regional connectivity, Prime Minister Imran Khan highlighted the opportunities presented by China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of BRI, for regional economic growth and prosperity.
Discussing the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, the two sides underscored the need for collective efforts to deal with the pandemic. Sri Lanka thanked Pakistan for the tremendous assistance extended to the repatriation of stranded Sri Lankans in Pakistan since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Reiterating the commitment of the new government to further strengthen the bilateral relations, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka thanked the government, and people of Pakistan for the constant support extended by Pakistan to safeguard the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister Imran Khan extended an invitation to the President and the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka to visit Pakistan at their earliest convenience and thanked them for the warm hospitality extended to him and his delegation.—APP