Feb 12, Colombo: Haoliang Xu, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, Chair, United Nations Development Group Asia-Pacific and UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director, met with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees Wednesday .
The UN official during the discussion with President Rajapaksa commended the progress achieved by Sri Lanka after the end of the conflict and the President explained the measures so far taken to resolve problems faced by the people of the North and to develop the area.
Mr. Xu, who is currently on a visit to Sri Lanka to observe progress made in UN development programs, discussed the progress of those programs and human development priorities of the country as well as the further support needs with the President.
"While understanding the impressive progress made so far, I also look forward to better understanding the human development priorities of the country as well as how we as the United Nations could strengthen our support to achieve these priorities," Mr. Xu said earlier.
As UN's work in Sri Lanka has shifted largely towards more development-focused programs, the UN official was in Sri Lanka to better understand the progress made in the first year of implementation of the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for 2013-2017.
Minister of Education Bandula Gunawardena, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary Ministry of External Affairs Kshenuka Seneviratne and Resident Coordinator of the UN in Sri Lanka Subinay Nandy were also present during the discussions between the President and the UN official.
Mr. Xu also launched a key UNDP supported program, Strengthening Enforcement of Law, Access to Justice and Social Integration (SELAJSI) today at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.
The Program is a joint initiative of Sri Lanka Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms and the Ministry of Child Development and Women's Affairs, implemented to ensure that gains in the justice sector are institutionalized, systemized and scaled-up.
Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem and National Languages and Social Integration Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara were also present at the event.
Mr. Xu also met Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa yesterday at the Ministry office.
He commended the Minister for his leadership role during the preparation of the UNDAF 2013-2017 and for the government's full ownership of the framework.
Making note of the forthcoming National Human Development Report (NHDR) 2014 on Youth and Development, UNDP's Asia-Pacific chief expressed hope that the Report will serve as a strong advocacy tool for promoting youth empowerment and human development in Sri Lanka.
(Photos by Sudath Silva)