Pakistani FM calls for optimising bilateral economic links | Daily News


Pakistani FM calls for optimising bilateral economic links

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena with Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena with Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who arrived in Sri Lanka on a two-day visit, called on Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena at the Foreign Relations Ministry on Monday and discussed the growing bilateral relations that could be further diversified and developed in the main sectors.

The visiting Foreign Minister congratulated Minister Gunawardena on his new assignment and stated that Pakistan looks forward to working with Sri Lanka. He invited the minister to visit the country in the near future. This was mentioned in a press release issued by the Foreign Relations Ministry.

Minister Qureshi also commended the Sri Lankan government for its efforts in eradicating terrorism and defeating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and thereby restoring peace in the region, which was of vital importance.

The minister emphasised that the two countries, having held long-standing trade ties, needed to reach a higher level of economic cooperation; which at present, has not been fully optimised. He said there is much potential for economic links to be strengthened.

Minister Qureshi highlighted that Sri Lanka is not fully utilising its credit line of US$ 200 million with Pakistan and invited Sri Lanka to make use of the opportunity, especially in the animal husbandry area, which would be beneficial for the country. The minister also informed that both countries must look toward strengthening the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (PSLFTA), which is the first bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) of Pakistan.

He requested the Foreign Ministry to identify potential areas of trade and investment and plan a programme which would encourage the Sri Lankan business sector to visit Pakistan and form links with suitable counterparts there. He further commended the Sri Lankan government’s efforts to strengthen defence cooperation and added that he looked forward to further intelligence-sharing to help each other as committed neighbours.

Minister Gunawardena welcomed his Pakistani counterpart and conveyed Sri Lanka’s appreciation for Pakistan’s partnership in multifaceted cooperation, including the steadfast support for the country’s development process. The minister stated that this visit is the first to be made of a Foreign Minister to Sri Lanka following the formation of the Cabinet, after the election of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Minister Gunawardena informed his counterpart that Sri Lanka is committed to continuing its partnership in all possible areas of cooperation, and also looks forward to engaging in the tourism and higher education sectors, in addition to the growing bilateral economic partnership.

Minister Qureshi invited a delegation of Buddhist clergy from Sri Lanka to visit Pakistan and witness the Buddhist religious sites there in an effort to enhance the growing cultural relations.

During the visit, Foreign Minister Qureshi also called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The Pakistani Foreign Minister was accompanied by Pakistani Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Dr. Muhammad Faisal, Pakistani Acting High Commissioner Tanvir Ahmad, Defence Attaché Col. Sajjad Ali, and Pakistan High Commission Second Secretary Ayesha Abubakar Fahad.

Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha and senior officials of the ministry were also present at the meeting.

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