Sri Lanka to diversify ties with Cuba
External Affairs Minister G. L. Peiris highlighted Sri Lanka's
interest in diversifying relations with Cuba, the purpose which framed
the visit of a delegation led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
In an interview with the Prensa Latina shortly before traveling to
Brazil on Tuesday for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable
Development, Rio +20, the minister considered that potential exists to
expand links established in July 1959.
“We have excellent bilateral relations, and in that sense, we want to
consolidate them into the political field and to strengthen trade and
investment,” said Prof Peiris.
G. L. Peiris
He also highlighted the potential for cooperation of Cuba in areas
such as health, education and sport.
Currently, 41 Sri Lankan students are studying in Cuba in various
specialties of higher education programmes, which has allowed the
graduation of nearly 70 students.
According to the minister, promoting ties between Havana and Colombo
was the priority of the high-level delegation that from last Friday
fulfilled a busy schedule in Havana, which included President
Rajapaksa's meeting with the Head of the host state, Raul Castro.
Minister Peiris considered that both countries share aspirations and
positions on foreign policy, demonstrating the strength of ties.
“As members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), we defend
self-determination of states, reject outside interference and promote
the solution of internal problems from the traditions, culture and
aspirations of each people,” he said.
Asked about the position of Colombo around unilateral economic,
commercial and financial blockade against Cuba, he reiterated the
rejection of such practices, which in the case of Cuba have lasted over
half a century, with damages in excess of 975 billion dollars.
Sri Lanka at the UN has maintained a historic position of condemning
the blockade of Washington, in line with that demonstrated almost
unanimously by the international community in voting in the General
On other foreign policy projections of Colombo, the External Affairs
Minister mentioned the defence of the validity of NAM and greater
responsibility of developed countries on issues such as climate change
and the emission of greenhouse gases.
“To maintain the validity of its basic principles, we must ensure
that NAM is still alive and not go down in history,” Prof Peiris told
the Prensa Latina.
According to the minister that will be a priority for Sri Lanka at
the forthcoming summit of the bloc, scheduled in late August in Tehran.
About Rio +20, Minister Peiris said that Sri Lanka will demand
solutions in this forum.
“We have long discussed and we need solutions, because developing
countries are not responsible for the current problems,” he said in
reference to climate change and threats to the survival of the human