01st September 2009, www.colombopage.com
Tripoli: Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday agreed to further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries when they met in the Libyan capital.
The two leaders who are in Tripoli to participate in the 40th anniversary of Al-Fateh Revolution of Libya discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in various fields including trade, education, pharmaceuticals, engineering, railways, diplomatic training and defense.
President Rajapaksa and the Prime Minister Gilani noting the enhanced trade between the two countries after signing the Free Trade Agreement agreed to expand the FTA to include services and investment.
Sri Lanka was the first to sign a FTA with Pakistan and Pakistan is the second largest trading partner of Sri Lanka within the South Asian region.
The two leaders also discussed increasing the cooperation in air travel between the two countries. President Rajapaksa sought to restart the flight operations of the Pakistan's state-run airline, PIA while the Premier said Pakistan's largest private airline, Air Blue will start flights to Colombo.
During his visit to Colombo for the Regional Cooperation Development meeting in October, Pakistani Foreign Minister is expected to meet the Sri Lankan Aviation Minister to further discuss the air travel arrangements.
To enhance cooperation in education, the two leaders alos agreed to offer post-graduate scholarships to the students of each other's countries on a reciprocal basis.
Prime Minister Gilani congratulated President Rajapaksa on the successful end of war in Sri Lanka and sharing the Pakistan's experience in resettling refugees discussed the Sri Lanka government's resettlement efforts of the IDPs in the North.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has accepted an invitation extended by the Prime Minister for an official visit to Pakistan.
Pakistan has been a major ally of Sri Lanka in its war against the Tamil rebels supplying high tech military equipment to the Sri Lankan army and training its armed forces. Sri Lanka is a major buyer of Pakistani defense equipments and products.
(Pictures by Sudath Silva)
Related Info :
• Pakistan-Sri Lanka FTA (PSFTA) - Detailed Information - The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI)