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* Sri Lanka and Kenya pledge to strengthen bilateral relations, sign eight agreements
Sat, Dec 14, 2013, 08:57 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Dec 14, Nairobi: Sri Lanka and Kenya today agreed to strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries in a number of sectors and signed eight agreements.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, currently on a four-day state visit to Kenya, and his Kenyan counterpart President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the signing ceremony of eight memorandums of understanding today at the State House in Nairobi.

Before the signing ceremony, two leaders held bi-lateral talks on further strengthening ties between the two nations and enhancing cooperation in a number of sectors, including economic, trade, investment, education and technology.

The memorandums of understanding (MoUs) signed today cover Tourism, Cultural Cooperation, Cooperation in the field of sports,Visa exemption for holders of diplomatic and official passports, Bilateral Trade, Economic, Commercial and Technical Corporation, Bilateral consultation and Establishment of a Joint Commission.

Agreeing to further enhance cooperation in the areas of trade and economic cooperation the two leaders instructed the relevant institutions to initiate consultations leading to the conclusion of agreements in the areas of investment promotion and protection and avoidance of double taxation.

They further agreed to enhance cooperation in the development of production and processing capacity in agriculture particularly with regard to coconut processing and promoting, people to people contacts, sharing experiences in the areas of development, governance and institutional reforms, deepening and collaboration in the areas of education and research, partnerships in minerals processing, hospitality, textiles development and financial services.

President Rajapaksa speaking at the state banquet hosted by the Kenyan President at the State House in Nairobi on Friday (13th) said that he is the first ever head of state to visit Kenya from Sri Lanka, and that Kenya and Sri Lanka are both home to two great ancient civilizations, dating back many millennia.

"We are also bound by historical experiences, sharing common platforms in the Non-Aligned movement and as members of the Commonwealth," the President pointed out.

The Sri Lankan President pledged his government's commitment to work with Kenya in building a dynamic partnership that will benefit the people of the two countries.

"With Kenya, we seek to build a modern, dynamic partnership, having identified several areas for focused cooperation. To this end, we will, during my present visit sign formal agreements and establish the Kenya-Sri Lanka joint commission, graduating our relationship to greater heights," the President said.

President Rajapaksa expressed appreciation for the "understanding and unwavering support" extended to Sri Lanka to eliminate terrorism in the island and in overcoming the post conflict challenges.

President Rajapaksa and First Lady Shiranthi Wickremasinghe Rajapaksa also participated in Kenya's 50th Independence Day celebrations held on the 12th at the Moi International Sports Complex (MISC) in Kasarani on the outskirts of Nairobi.

Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, Deputy Minister of Civil Aviation Geethanjana Gunawardena, Chief Minister of the Uva Province Sashendra Rajapaksa, Monitoring MP of the Ministry of External Affairs Sajin De Vass Gunawardena and Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga are accompanying the President in his visit.

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