ISLAMABAD - President Mamnoon Hussain Saturday said that both Pakistan and Sri Lanka should work to increase the existing bilateral trade volume to US$ 1.5 billion by 2015.

In a meeting with Sri Lankan Minister for Irrigation and Water Resources Management Nimal Siripala De Silva who called on him at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, the President said a huge potential existed, especially in economic sectors that needed to be fully tapped.  He said that concerted efforts were required to avail the existing economic opportunities for enhancing mutual cooperation. The President underscored the need to make Free Trade Agreement between the two countries more conducive by increasing the volume of trade.

He said mutual exchange of business delegations and greater interaction among the business communities of the two countries would provide impetus to these efforts.

The meeting also discussed Pak-Sri Lanka bilateral relations and the way forward to further strengthening the existing equation. President Mamnoon Hussain, while expressing satisfaction over the existing ties of the two countries, observed that Pakistan attached great importance to its relations with Sri Lanka and noted that a strong political will existed in Pakistan to further develop and promote its bilateral relations with Sri Lanka.

Referring to the meetings between the Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif and the President of Sri Lanka in New York in September 2013 and in Colombo in November 2013, the President observed that such high level interactions would serve to boost the bilateral relations.

It would also provide momentum to the efforts, aimed at further promoting cooperation in various areas of the mutual benefits of the peoples of both countries, he added.

Discussing mutual cooperation and support of the country to Sri Lanka in overcoming various challenges including threat from terrorism, the President appreciated the valiant struggle, waged by the government and the people of Sri Lanka against the menace of terrorism.

He assured the visiting Sri Lankan Minister that Pakistan would continue providing support to Sri Lanka at all foras including the international forums.

Nimal Siripala De Silva thanked the President and the Government of Pakistan for the support to his country and said that Sri Lankan government and people were also keen to further strengthen their relations with the government and the people of Pakistan.