Aug 23, Colombo: Leaders of Sri Lanka and Maldives agree to extend and strengthen bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues when they met today for discussions.
President of Maldives Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik accompanied by First Lady Ilham Hussain arrived in Sri Lanka today on a two-day official visit. His Sri Lankan counterpart President Mahinda Rajapaksa welcomed the Maldivian leader at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo.
The two presidents discussed to expand bilateral cooperation in human resource development, defense and security and protection of the resources and sea lanes in the Indian Ocean.
The Maldivian President has requested Sri Lanka's continued assistance in maritime security, strengthening coast guard activities, marine engineering and in the training of air traffic control personnel.
Dr. Waheed has said that the close ties between the two countries in areas such as tourism, health, fisheries, and youth affairs would continue to grow.
Emphasizing Sri Lanka's role in modernizing the education in the tiny atoll, the visiting President has appreciated the contribution of Sri Lankan teachers in building the human resource base in Maldives.
The Maldivian leader has sought Sri Lanka's assistance in training police personnel, Special Forces units and squadrons trained by the Sri Lanka Navy.
He has extended an invitation to Sri Lanka to participate in forthcoming coastguard exercises, which would be a unique demonstration of cooperation among Sri Lanka, India and Maldives.
President Rajapaksa has said that Sri Lanka had noted the recent political transition in the Maldives and is eagerly following developments.
"Sri Lanka believes that political transition and changes should not harm the peace, prosperity and stability in a country. It is my wish to see Maldives as a stable and prosperous country and the blessings of the Sri Lankan people are with you," the President Rajapaksa has said.
Before his departure to Sri Lanka President Waheed has told Maldivian media that Sri Lankan leaders have always been compassionate towards the Maldives and that he gets direct suggestions forwarded to him from them.
President Rajapaksa has thanked the Maldivian leader for extending support at the 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva earlier this year.
The Sri Lankan President has reiterated Sri Lanka's support to strengthen Maldivian defence forces by providing further training opportunities, in addition to the present training provided in the areas of military, bomb disposal, coast guard & maritime and air defence.
Sri Lankan defence and law enforcement agencies work closely with their Maldivian counterparts on the prevention of narcotics, weapons and human smuggling, President Rajapaksa has noted.
The President has said that Sri Lanka expects the fullest cooperation of Maldives to activate the already established SAARC Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk (STOMD) and the SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk in Colombo.
President Rajapaksa has said Sri Lanka encourages closer cooperation in security and intelligence including maritime security establishments to safeguard the sea lanes in the Indian Ocean.
(Photos by Sudath Silva)