ISLAMABAD - Prof GL Peiris Minister of External Affair Sri Lanka called on Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Friday and discussed areas of economic cooperation and explored ways to enhance bilateral trade and economic relations between Pakistan and Sri Lanka,

Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar said that the present volume of trade between the two countries does not reflect the depth and close relations between the two countries.

Pakistan, the finance Minister said, accords great importance to its relations with Sri Lanka both as a member of SAARC as well as great friend of Pakistan.

The Sri Lankan External Minister thanked the government and people of Pakistan for their support and assistance to Sri Lanka in international forums and termed the relations between the two countries as excellent.

Prof GL Peiris informed the Finance Minister about the forth coming Summit Meeting of  Common Wealth Heads of  States scheduled for November this year .The Sri Lankan External Minister invited the Finance Minster  to participate in the meeting and also address the Business Forum being held on the sidelines of the Summit so that Sri Lanka can benefit from his rich  experience.

The Sri Lankan External Minister also invited the Finance Minister to the Finance Minister’s meeting of SAARC being held on August 30th, 2013. He also expressed the hope the Finance Minister would be able to attend the next meeting of the Joint Ministerial Commission of Pakistan and Sri Lanka expected to be held in Colombo at the end of September this year.

Prof Peiris while talking to the Finance Minister said that Sri Lanka is very keen to expand its economic relation with Pakistan especially in the areas of micro credit, sugar, construction and cement industry. He also expressed the desire that Pakistani businesspersons should visit Colombo and attend the Business Forum so that economic relation between the two countries can further be strengthened.

The Sri Lankan External Minister said that given the stability, the present growth rate was 6 percent and huge investments were being made to develop the infrastructure of areas hitherto neglected in Sri Lanka.

The Finance Minster assured the Sri Lankan Minister that Pakistan would provide all possible assistance in the development of Sri Lanka.

Responding to the request of Sri Lankan Minister to send business persons, Pakistan, he said, would assemble a group of businesspersons who are genuinely interested to do business with Sri Lanka and hope that this would open new vistas and further deepen the economic ties between the two countries.

The Finance Minister also apprised the Sri Lankan Minister about the state of economy of Pakistan and the stabilisation measures taken by the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to address macro-economic imbalances The government, he said, has set an ambitious revenue target as well as a public sector development programme of Rs540 billion. Besides, an amount of Rs75 billion has also been allocated for the social safety net.

The High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in Pakistan Air Chief Marshall (Retd) Jayalath Weerakkody accompanied the Sri Lankan External Minister.

Senior Official of Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs Division were also present on the occasion.