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* Sri Lanka, Belarus agree on trade and economic cooperation
Mon, Aug 26, 2013, 07:48 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Aug 26, Minsk: Sri Lanka and Belarus have agreed to set up a joint commission on trade and economic cooperation as an effective mechanism to promote bilateral trade between the two countries.

The agreement was reached during the discussions held between the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is on an official three-day visit to Minsk, and his Belarusian counterpart President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk today.

The Sri Lankan President thanked the Belarusian leader for the invitation to visit his country and the opportunity to discuss ways to expand bilateral cooperation.

Pointing out that Belarus and Sri Lanka collaborate on the international arena, President Rajapaksa said the two nations need to keep working to protect each other at international organizations.

He emphasized that Sri Lanka and Belarus need to expand cooperation on the international arena. The two countries agreed to cement friendly relations and cooperate actively in international organizations to act jointly against the attempts to use the UN as an instrument of political pressure.

During the discussions, President Lukashenko noted that Belarusian-Sri Lankan relations have gained clear positive dynamics recently. There are significant prospects for developing cooperation in politics, trade and economy, industry, science and technology, culture, education and other areas, he pointed out.

Belarusian President invited Sri Lanka to set up joint ventures and proposed to implement a number of large bilateral projects with Sri Lanka.

"We are ready to set up joint ventures on your land, and such proposals have already been worked out by specialists of the two countries. I think many of these projects can be launched soon," the Belarusian President said.

Stressing that Belarus would like the Sri Lankan businesses to invest in Belarus and opportunities for business cooperation are great, President Lukashenko said the main goal for the two countries is to develop the economic basis for mutual cooperation, and to develop the trade and economic relations.

The Sri Lankan President said that there are more opportunities for Belarus investors in Sri Lanka as well.

The leaders of the two states confirmed the readiness to further develop mutual trade, to expand the cooperation in the field of engineering technology and machinery construction, agriculture and food industries, construction, petrochemistry, including through the establishment of joint enterprises and production facilities, Belarus official news agency said.

The Belarusian leader pointed out that the current trade turnover of about $50 million fails to reflect the capacities of the two countries. “We are resolute to build it up and advance it to a more serious level,” he asserted.

President Lukashenko reiterated that Belarus would continue providing assistance to Sri Lanka in training specialists in various fields.

The Sri Lankan leader expressing his special interest in advancing cultural ties with Belarus said that Sri Lanka is ready to welcome Belarusian artists in the near future.

Both Presidents along with the Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Tozik and Cultural Minister Boris Svetlov watched a spectacular performance by Sri Lankan artists in Minsk Sunday.

The two leaders discussed the possibility of establishing direct air links between Colombo and Minsk as a measure to enhance bilateral trade and tourism.

President Rajapaksa also invited President Lukashenko to visit Sri Lanka at his convenience.

Following the discussions the two sides signed eight agreements of mutual understanding to expand trade, tourism and cultural cooperation.

The two leaders agreed to continue to exchange visits and stressed the positive contribution at the highest and high level to the development of international relations, a joint statement issued by the two leaders said.

(Photos by Sudath Silva)

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