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* Sri Lankan President begins state visit to Kazakhstan
Mon, Nov 19, 2012, 08:38 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Nov 19, Astana: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Monday arrived in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana on a three-day state visit at the invitation of President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Sri Lankan President accompanied by First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa was warmly welcomed by the Kazakhstan Minister of Economic Development and Trade Erbolat Dosayevat at the Astana International Airport.

President Rajapaksa's visit comes when Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan are celebrating 20 years of diplomatic relations. Sri Lanka established diplomatic relations with Kazakhstan on June 29, 1992.

Celebrating the event the Sri Lankan Embassy in Russia has organized a Sri Lankan Culture Day with a dance troupe performance and a photo exhibition as part of the event.

President Rajapaksa and President Nazarbayev Kazakhstan today attended the dance concert presented by the Sri Lankan and Kazakhstan artists at the Astana Palace of Peace and Reconciliation. The "Beauties of Sri Lanka" photo exhibition was also opened at the same venue.

The "Beauties of Sri Lanka" exposition is dedicated to the political and economic transformation that took place in Sri Lanka after the civil war. The expo aiming to promote tourism showcases Sri Lankan culture and beautiful landscapes.

During his visit to Astana President Rajapaksa is scheduled to hold discussions on problems of political and commercial and economic cooperation between the two countries as well as to exchange views on relevant issues of international policy and security.

Sri Lanka will also enter into an agreement with Kazakhstan on cooperation in the field of tourism between the two countries, during President's stay.

Following bilateral discussions A Memorandum of Understanding will be signed between the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Kazakh Chamber of Commerce and Industry on tourism cooperation. The agreement will enhance the bilateral relationship between the two countries and strengthen the tourism flow in to Sri Lanka and open new avenue for trade and investments.

The President will also announce Sri Lanka's intention to seek observer status in the multi-national forum, Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), which is formed in 1992 for enhancing cooperation towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia.

Sri Lankan delegation to Kazakhstan included External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris, Chief Minister of Uva Province Sashendra Rajapaksa, and secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga.

(Photos by Sudath Silva)

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