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* Sri Lanka and Belarus to establish inter-parliamentary associations
Tue, Aug 27, 2013, 11:13 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Aug 27, Minsk: Sri Lanka and Belarus Tuesday agreed to establish an inter-parliamentary association to ensure cooperation between the Parliaments of the two countries.

The agreement with multiple objectives was reached when Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa met with the Chairman of the House of Representatives of the Belarus National Assembly Vladmir Andreichenko and the Chairman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus Anatoly Rusetski at the State House in Belarus today, the final day of the President's three-day state tour to Belarus.

The two sides agreed to enhance mutual understanding in political, economic and social sector and ensure mutual cooperation in international fora. Furthering cooperation in economic, trade and business sectors was another objective.

Mr. Andreichenko said Belarus was impressed by the achievements of Sri Lanka in recent years, including in the social sector.

During the discussions, President Rajapaksa stressed the importance of maintaining strong parliamentary relations between the two countries in ensuring strong bilateral ties.

President Rajapaksa also spoke about the inter-parliamentary associations that Sri Lanka has already established with the participation of all political parties represented in Parliament.

He said that consideration should be given to the creation of friendship groups in the Belarusian and Sri Lankan parliaments.

"Your views about parliamentary cooperation are similar to ours," Andreichenko said. "We will establish a Belarus Parliamentary Association with Sri Lanka in the near future. We hope you will do the same."

The Chairman said he believes that establishing inter-parliamentary associations will pave the way for closer cooperation in the areas of education and culture, going beyond economic and trade cooperation. Agreeing with Mr. Andreichenko, President Rajapaksa added that it will also give people of both countries an opportunity to interact with each other.

Both President Rajapaksa and Mr. Andreichenko emphasized the need to immediately work towards enhancing cooperation in all sectors as was agreed upon during the bilateral talks between President Rajapaksa and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.

President Rajapaksa thanked the Belarusian side for the warm welcome and extended an invitation to the Chairman of the House of Representatives to visit Sri Lanka .

"I would like to invite the chairman to visit our country to more closely examine our parliamentary system," the President said.

A high-level Belarusian delegation joined this discussion as well as the Sri Lankan delegation comprising Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Sri Lanka's Ambassador in Russia Udayanga Weeratunga, and Provincial Council members Somawansha Kodagoda, Arjuna de Silva, Nousa Fowzie and Additional Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs Mrs. Kshenuka Seneviratne.

During the morning, President Rajapaksa also made a floral tribute at a war memorial in Belarus, built to honor soldiers who sacrificed their lives during World War II.

On this third and final day of his visit, President Rajapaksa also attended the launch of a tourism forum at the Crown Plaza Hotel, organized to promote tourism between the two countries. Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Mr. Anatoly Tozik and the Cultural Minister Mr. Boris Svetlov were also present at the occasion.

The President and the Sri Lankan delegation also visited a heavy vehicle and tractor manufacturing plant.

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