ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Sri Lanka Wednesday agreed to further enhance bilateral cooperation in the fields of trade, education, culture and defence.
This was agreed during the fourth round of political consultations held here at the ministry of foreign affairs between foreign secretaries of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry and Kshenuka Senewiratne respectively.
The foreign secretaries recognised that based on political goodwill the two countries enjoy close and friendly relations, which have strengthened over the years. However, they agreed on the need to further consolidate them in diverse areas. They particularly sought enhanced cooperation in the fields of trade, education, culture and defence.
Kshenuka Senewiratne briefed her Pakistani counterpart on the current developments in Sri Lanka including the efforts on rehabilitation, reconciliation and resettlement in the post-war conflict areas. The Sri Lankan side expressed deep appreciation for the steadfast support received from Pakistan at the international fora, particularly at the recently concluded UNHRC session in Geneva, in countering the elements that undermine the reconciliation process.
She also appreciated the development assistance by the government of Pakistan towards Sri Lanka's reconstruction efforts. The Sri Lankan side appreciated the scholarships provided by Pakistan in various fields of education and in training of their diplomats at the Foreign Service Academy.
Sri Lanka also welcomed proposals from Pakistan for assistance in curriculum development in training in the health and gems and jewellery sectors.
The Pakistan side reciprocated its appreciation for the scholarships offered by the government of Sri Lanka for its nationals. It was agreed to further diversify and strengthen existing collaboration in the field of education.
Regional and global issues of mutual interest also came up for discussion during the consultations. In this context, both sides agreed to a continued collaboration and cooperation.
An exchange of views took place on a range of issues including matters of mutual interest, particularly in the region, and working within the framework of SAARC. The two sides committed to share experience and assistance in event of natural disasters and calamities. The leaders of the delegations finalised the proposed agreement on cooperation in the field of disaster management for signing during the forthcoming presidential visit in Islamabad while reiterating the need for continuing cooperation in this regard.
Both sides reaffirmed their resolve to strengthen cooperation in countering terrorism, drug and human trafficking, asylum seekers' problems, and transnational crimes in a comprehensive manner. It was agreed to continue the cooperation with renewed vigour, which includes training of security personnel.
Realising the effectiveness of the foreign secretary-level consultations, they agreed to regularly hold the talks.
The consultations prepared ground for President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit to Pakistan later this month. During the visit, the two leaders will take stock of the bilateral relations and identify potential areas for cooperation to the mutual benefit of the countries and its people.
Kshenuka Senewiratne also called on the prime minister and adviser to the prime minister on national security and foreign affairs.
The Sri Lankan delegation comprised Air Chief Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody, Sri Lankan high commissioner, Senior DIG Anura Senanayake, ministry of defence and urban development, Dharshana Mahendra Perera, acting DG/South Asia, ministry of external affairs, Samantha Wijesekara, deputy director, department of commerce, Tharanga Liyanage, director (Middle East & SAARC), department of external resources, and officials of the Sri Lankan high commission, while senior officials of the ministry of foreign affairs and 12 other government departments were part of the Pakistani delegation.