Nov 20, Astana: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa met with his Kazakhstan counterpart President Nursultan Nazarbayev in Astana Tuesday and held bilateral discussions to broaden the political and economic ties between the two countries.
The top level meeting focused on the issues of political interaction and activation of the commercial and economic, scientific and technical, and cultural and humanitarian partnership, according to the Kazakhstan Presidential press service.
Sri Lankan President's three-day official visit is to the Kazakhstan capital at the invitation of President Nazarbayev coincides with the 20th anniversary of establishment of the diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Sri Lankan leader's visit to the central Asian country is aimed at creating a platform for open exchange on wide range of regional and global issues and a solid foundation for further strengthening of bilateral cooperation.
The Kazakhstani leader, stressing that President Rajapaksa's visit to Kazakhstan is of great importance, has said the two countries have a good opportunity to exchange views on relevant issues and get to know each other better.
"We enjoy good relations of confidence and mutual understanding. I am confident this meeting will give a new impetus to cooperation between our states in various spheres- economy, politics, and culture," President Nazarbayev said.
Sri Lankan President, expressing his appreciation to President Nazarbayev on behalf of the Sri Lankan delegation for the warm welcome in Astana, said his visit will allow the two nations to outline the specific spheres for cooperation.
"We have a great potential for the development of trade and economic relations, growth of foreign investments, in particular, tourist industry," President Rajapaksa said.
President Rajapaksa apprised his Kazakhstani counterpart of a series of bilateral agreements soon to be signed to open air service between the two countries and facilitate a visa-free regime for holders of diplomatic and official passports.
Kazakhstan President also invited Sri Lanka to the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
"We have agreed to cooperate under the SCO (Shanghai Corporation Organization) and other organizations. I have asked Sri Lanka to be an acting member of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA)," President Nazarbayev said.
President Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka made a decision to achieve the observer's status in CICA in order to start a closer cooperation in this format for enhancement of interaction of Asian countries.
During the meeting the Sri Lankan President extended an invitation to President Nazarbayev to visit Sri Lanka.
After the top level meeting the two countries signed an agreement on tourism cooperation.
Addressing the media following the meeting with the Sri Lankan President, the Kazakhstani leader said the two countries have decided to step up commercial and economic corporation.
"In the course of negotiations, my colleague from Sri Lanka and I have agreed the existing level of commercial and economic relations does not comply with the potential the both countries have. So, we've decided to step up cooperation in this sector," President Nazarbayev said.
He invited the Sri Lankan businessmen to participate in the implementation of the State Program of Accelerated Industrial and Innovative Development in Kazakhstan.
President Nazarbayev said the basic economic agreements on mutual protection of investments and avoidance of double taxation would be signed in the nearest future. Besides, an inter-governmental commission for development of cooperation between the two countries is to be set up.
President Rajapaksa and President Nazarbayev Kazakhstan Monday attended a dance concert presented by the Sri Lankan and Kazakhstan artists at the Astana Palace of Peace and Reconciliation to celebrate 20 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. 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.
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)