ISLAMABAD By,ABID SIDDIQUE CHAUDHRY
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a bilateral meeting with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena in Colombo, today. The Foreign Minister underscored the importance Pakistan attached to its relations with Sri Lanka and further strengthening the multifaceted cooperation. He stressed that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s present visit was reflective of the priority accorded to this relationship.
The two Foreign Ministers reviewed the whole gamut of bilateral relations. Underscoring the need to enhance bilateral trade and investment, Foreign Minister Qureshi expressed satisfaction at the progress made during the recently held meetings of the 12th Joint Economic Commission (JEC) and 7th Commerce Secretary Level talks. He welcomed the convening of the “Trade and Investment Conference” jointly chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa .
To realize the full potential of bilateral trade, the need to further expand the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was underscored.
In the context of economic connectivity, Foreign Minister Qureshi highlighted that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), could be a game changer for the entire region.
The Foreign Minister also highlighted the mutual benefit that linking of Gwader Port in Pakistan to the Sri Lankan Ports could bring to both the countries. He invited Sri Lanka to benefit from Gwader Port for easy access to the Central Asian markets.
Foreign Minister Qureshi, noting the close traditional and cultural ties between the two countries, proposed on promoting religious tourism.
The Foreign Minister welcomed the reconstitution of Sri Lanka-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Group in Sri Lankan Parliament and underscored the importance of regular parliamentary exchanges to reinforce bilateral cooperation in diverse fields.
Foreign Minister Qureshi stated that Pakistan was a key partner of Sri Lanka in human resource development. In this regard, he highlighted the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Higher Education Cooperation Programme (PSLHECP).
The Foreign Minister also appreciated the Sri Lankan cricket team’s visit that led to the return of international cricket to Pakistan.
The Foreign Minister shared Pakistan’s perspective on major issues of regional and international importance.
The two Foreign Ministers re-affirmed the commitment for close cooperation at the regional and international fora, including the UN and SAARC.
The two Foreign Ministers agreed to work closely to further strengthen ties and enhance cooperation in diverse fields.