Apr 26, Colombo: A visiting parliamentary delegation of Pakistan has requested Sri Lanka to establish a trade office in the strategic port of Gwadar, which is under development as part of an economic corridor.
The Speaker of the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan, Pakistan, Mir Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali, made this request when he, along with a group of provincial assembly members, called on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees this morning.
The Gwadar port, which is located in Balochistan, will serve as a gateway to the strategically significant Strait of Hurmoz, which has been described as the world's most important oil choke point with 16 million barrels of crude oil transiting every single day.
The port is a part of a larger effort by Pakistan to establish a Pakistan-China economic corridor. China is a major investor in Gwadar port, and has spent US$ 248 million in the first phase of the port and envisages an investment of US$12 billion.
President Rajapaksa briefed the visiting provincial members of the significance of Sri Lanka's Hambantota Port, which was also built with Chinese funds and is strategically located just 10 nautical miles away from the world's busiest east-west shipping lane, in reviving the historic silk route.
In addition to collaboration in the shipping sector, Mr. Jamali also requested President Rajapaksa for assistance in the education sector to train math, science and English teachers in his Province.
While expressing how thrilled they were to see Sri Lanka win the T20 Cricket World Cup this year, the provincial members appreciated great friendship with Sri Lanka.
"Even though we're in two different countries, our hearts are together," Speaker Jamali told President Rajapaksa adding that he wanted to expose the members to "countries which are very brotherly and have mutual respect."
Charge d' Affairs Amna Baloch and the Press Attaché of Pakistan Daud Ehtisham were present at the meeting. Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs Mrs. Kshenuka Seneviratne were also present.
(Photos by Chandana Perera)