Accord with Sri Lanka to bolster strategic ties
(DAWN) Pakistan and Sri Lanka have agreed to bolster their strategic ties by enhancing trade and strengthening defence and security cooperation.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa began a three-day visit to Pakistan on Friday with a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari who told him that there was a huge scope to boost cooperation by “building on shared values, enhancing connectivity, increasing
the synergies of our economies and reinforcing the institutional framework for cooperation”.
The two countries are aiming to increase bilateral trade to $2 billon mark over the next three years and pledged to support each other at regional and international forums.
Islamabad, moreover, assured Colombo of its continued assistance in the field of defence and security in a clear sign that the two countries were ready to take their relationship to new heights.
President Zardari suggested a number of measures for increasing the volume of trade, including proposals for a currency swap arrangement and establishment of direct shipping service between the two countries.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka are also expected to sign an agreement during President Rajapaksa’s visit under which the latter would get $200 million export credit facility through the State Bank of Pakistan.
Pakistan is the second largest trade partner of Sri Lanka and their current trade stands at $375 million. The two countries have a free trade agreement.
At the meeting, President Zardari urged the business community of both countries to benefit from the trade and business potential in financial and banking sector, science and technology, defence, agriculture, tourism and gems.
He assured Sri Lanka of Pakistan’s continued defence cooperation.
Pakistan has been one of Sri Lanka’s major military hardware suppliers. Sri Lanka is also considering a Pakistani proposal for training of intelligence operatives and police officials.
The president laid special emphasis on cooperation in multilateral forums.
“The relations have also been marked by a measure of consistency and commonality of views on important regional and global issues, and the two countries have stood together and supported each other in all important matters concerning our two countries,” the president was quoted as saying in a press release issued by his office.
The Sri Lankan president said his country attached great importance to its strategic and special relations with Pakistan and desired to strengthen trade and commercial ties.