ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Sri Lanka Monday inked six agreements on cooperation in sports, shipping, disaster management, trafficking of illicit drugs, atomic energy and academic interaction, and also vowed to enhance economic ties.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena witnessed the signing of agreements at the PM House and noted their excellent cooperation in different areas.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told media persons that the two sides reviewed the whole range of Pakistan-Sri Lanka multifaceted bilateral relations. He said the talks were marked by full trust and complete understanding.

“Both the sides reached a broad consensus on ways and means to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in a comprehensive manner,” the prime minister said. Sri Lankan President Sirisena said the two countries were charting a dynamic course in relations and invited Prime Minister Sharif to visit Sri Lanka to continue the high level exchanges.

Prime Minister Sharif also stressed the need for regular political exchanges between Pakistan and Sri Lanka and said parliamentary visits would further strengthen the relations.

He said Pakistan and Sri Lanka enjoyed excellent relations, based on mutual respect and shared interests. “Our relations are marked by cordiality and commonality of views on major regional and global issues. Pakistan wishes to further deepen and broaden relations with Sri Lanka in all fields of importance,” the prime minister said.

He said Sri Lanka enjoys special position of being the first country with which Pakistan signed a free trade agreement in August 2002.

He, however, pointed out that the present volume of trade did not reflect the true potential. “We have agreed to reinvigorate our efforts to achieve US$ 1 billion bilateral trade target within the shortest possible time,” he averred.

The Sri Lankan president said the two sides agreed to improve their economic and trade ties and welcomed Pakistani investment. “We invite Pakistan International Airlines to resume flights to Sri Lanka.” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the two sides also discussed cooperation in the field of defence and mentioned that Sri Lanka had been participating in the defence exhibitions in Pakistan, while Pakistan’s naval ships had been regularly paying calls on the Sri Lankan ports.

He said the two sides agreed on the importance of tourism and the people-to-people contacts. He said sporting ties, especially in cricket, had created special bonds between the two peoples.

The Sri Lankan president also mentioned the excellent partnership with Pakistan in the field of education and stressed further collaboration to enhance people-to-people and business-to-business ties.

Referring to the talks, the prime minister said he had discussed with President Sirisena the regional situation and the need for closer cooperation between the two countries.

“I informed the President that Pakistan is focusing on growth and development to ensure prosperity to our people. To achieve this goal, we want peaceful relations with all our neighbours.”

The two sides also discussed mutual cooperation at multilateral forums, especially Saarc. The Sri Lankan president appreciated Pakistan’s assistance to his country at critical moments after its independence and said it stood along with it in its fight against terrorism.

The two leaders also witnessed inking of a number of MOUs and agreements that included cooperation in sports, shipping, disaster management, trafficking of illicit drugs, atomic energy and academic interaction.

Both Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Maithripala Sirisena said the agreements would go a long way in further strengthening the bilateral ties.

The Sri Lankan President also appreciated Pakistan over its one million dollars grant for the rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons and 200 million dollars credit line for his country.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena was accorded a warm welcome when he arrived here at the Prime Minister House to hold talks with the Pakistani leadership on bilateral matters and issues of regional importance.

The visiting dignitary was received by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. National anthems of the two countries were played and the Sri Lankan president reviewed the guard of honour presented by a contingent representing the three services.

The two leaders introduced members of their respective delegations before heading for an exclusive meeting. It was followed by delegation-level talks.

Sri Lanka’s new president, Maithripala Sirisena, swept to power in January. His arrival in Pakistan Sunday for a three-day state visit has been watched by observers for clues to any further changes in Colombo’s foreign policy.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka have traditionally enjoyed strong ties, particularly in defence, with Islamabad providing military assistance during the war against Tamil Tiger guerrillas that ended in 2009.

Sri Lanka signed a pact with India in February to build its atomic energy infrastructure, including training of personnel.

Pakistan currently has three operational nuclear plants generating a total of around 740MW of power and has begun work on two more, including a 2,200-megawatt station to be built with Chinese technical assistance on the Arabian Sea coast at Paradise Beach, 40 kilometres west of Karachi.