Aug 23, Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said today that Pakistan values its relations with Sri Lanka which are characterized by cordiality and friendship and expressed desire to further deepen and broaden these ties through regular contacts and exchange of visits.
The Prime Minister expressed these views in a meeting with Sri Lanka's Minister for External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris and High Commissioner of Sri Lanka Air Chief Marshal (R) Jayalath Weerakkody who called on him at the Prime Minister's Office this morning.
Minister Peiris arrived in Islamabad Thursday night on a two-day visit to Pakistan to hand over a letter from Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, inviting Prime Minister Sharif and his wife to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in November in Colombo.
A similar letter of invitation was also extended to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to participate in the Commonwealth Business Forum, which would be held on the sidelines of CHOGM.
During the meeting with the Pakistani PM, Prof. Peiris updated the Prime Minister on the progress being made by Sri Lanka to achieve post-war reconciliation as well as rehabilitation of those affected by the war and expressed Sri Lanka's gratitude for Pakistan's continuing support in the rehabilitation efforts through a number of programs.
The Prime Minister said that Pakistan deeply admired Sri Lanka's unremitting endeavours for promoting economic independence, human dignity and social justice for the people of Sri Lanka.
While appreciating Sri Lanka's commendable efforts in rehabilitation of the IDPs and reconstruction of the war affected areas, the Prime Minister said that Pakistan has always supported Sri Lanka in its endeavour to defeat terrorism and expressed Pakistan's commitment to continue extending support to Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council and UN Security Council.
The Prime Minister said he looks forward to attending the CHOGM in Colombo in November and interacting with the Sri Lankan leadership. The Prime Minister also expressed Pakistan's strong support and desire to work closely with Sri Lanka on the platform of Commonwealth.
Nawaz Sharif conveyed Pakistan's desire to deepen economic ties between the two countries and to conclude an early bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Sri Lanka.
Noting that the present volume of trade between the two countries, despite the FTA of 2002, did not reflect the true potential, the Prime Minister said that there was a need to focus on enhancing economic cooperation which would add to the progress and prosperity of both countries.
This, in turn would ensure regional security and stability, fundamental for fighting poverty and promoting economic growth and development and therefore there was a need to renew efforts to realize the goal of achieving US $ 2 billion bilateral trade, the Pakistani Premier stressed.
It would help broadening and deepening of economic and commercial relations by including key elements of investment, services, customs cooperation and standardization, the Prime Minister added.
The Prime Minister called for both countries to work together for frequent and easier people to people contacts by promoting tourism.