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* Sri Lanka to support China's initiative of a 21st century Maritime Silk Route
Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 12:29 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 22, Colombo: Sri Lanka says it will support China's initiative to establish a 21st century Maritime Silk Route that aims for a comprehensive economic cooperation with the countries of the ancient route.

The External Affairs Ministry of Sri Lanka Friday said a Chinese delegation led by the Director General of China's Department of the National Development and Reforms Commission will be visiting the island from 22nd to 25th February, to further discuss the broad parameters of bilateral economic cooperation.

The Chinese delegation's visit closely follows the visit undertaken by the External Affairs Minister Professor G.L. Peiris to Beijing from 10-13 February.

During Sri Lankan Minister's visit both sides have discussed the establishment of a 21st Century Maritime Silk Route Economic Belt with the aim of integrating countries in the maritime silk route for comprehensive economic cooperation to enable common growth and prosperity.

The Chinese delegation's visit will give an added impetus to opportunities accruing to Sri Lanka in the context of promoting the country as a regional "commercial hub", the Ministry said in a statement.

Professor Peiris, in expressing support for this concept, has noted that the new initiative would be a catalyst in giving practical orientation to the "Strategic Co-operative Partnership" adopted by the leaders during President Mahinda Rajapaksa's State visit to China, in May last year.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, the Chinese dignitaries in their discussions with the Minister in Beijing, have reiterated the need to give consideration to each other's own national development strategy, while advancing practical cooperation, deepening the integration of interests and strengthening support for each other.

The Ministry said the two countries are giving priority to fast tracking the proposed Free Trade Agreement between Sri Lanka and China. The feasibility survey is on the verge of completion, and the rest of the process is to be expedited, the Ministry statement added.

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