New chapter in Lanka-Maldives ties
Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom arrived in Sri Lanka on a
two-day State visit yesterday, signifying a new chapter in the close
relationship between the two SAARC nations.
President Gayoom and First Lady Nasrina Gayoom were warmly received
at the Bandaranaike International Airport by President Mahinda Rajapaksa
and First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa. He was then accorded a 21-Gun Salute
and a Military Guard of Honour.
They were also accorded full State honours including a
military guard of honour.
The Maldivian President was conferred the highest national honour of
Sri Lanka Mithra Vibushana.
This award was conferred on a Foreign Head of State for the first
time in Sri Lanka. It was based on the exceptional friendship and
solidarity of the Maldivians with the people of Sri Lanka, and in
recognition of President Gayoom's contribution to South Asian solidarity
and regional cooperation, especially on issues pertaining to the
Following the receipt of the prestigious award at a colourful
ceremony at the Presidential Secretariat, President Gayoom said that the
award was a fitting tribute to mark the special friendship and
solidarity between the two countries and a great honour for the
It speaks volumes of the ever-growing friendship and cooperation
between the two countries, President Gayoom said.
President Rajapaksa conferring Sri Lanka’s Highest National
Honour Sri Lanka Mithra Vibushana on the Maldivian
President. Pictures by Ranjith Jayaweera, Sudath Silva and
"It is a lasting symbol of amity and good neighbourliness enjoyed
between Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which have been linked by history,
language, race and culture for centuries. I look forward to promote and
foster further regional cooperation in global environmental issues as
climate change, and work together for the betterment of our people.
I also look forward to the 15th SAARC Summit to be held in Sri
Lanka," he added. The Maldivian delegation led by President Gayoom held
bilateral talks with President Rajapaksa and officials on matters of
mutual interest to both countries.
The Maldivian President was briefed on developments in Sri Lanka,
including efforts to curb terrorism and find a political solution.
Two important agreements on the Transfer of Prisoners and Visa
Waivers for the mutual benefit of both countries were signed at the
Presidential Secretariat, by Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and
his Maldivian counterpart Abdullah Saheed.
Gayoom is due to hold talks with Prime Minister Ratnasiri
Wickramanayaka and Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama today.