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* Sri Lanka invites Palestinian Business Community to explore investment opportunities in the country
Tue, Jan 7, 2014, 09:00 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jan 07, Ramallah: Sri Lanka extended an invitation to the Palestinian Business Community to explore the investment opportunities present in the country following the end of the war four years ago.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is on a two-day visit to Palestine, extended the invitation for the members of the Palestinian business community to visit Sri Lanka when he met with them Tuesday afternoon.

The Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah, who hosted a lunch in honor of the President immediately, afterwards, spoke about the potential for Sri Lanka and Palestine to further strengthen economic relations.

Hoping that President Rajapaksa's visit will prompt for more cooperation, Dr. Hamdallah said he hopes the visit "can activate commercial relations."

Sri Lanka's Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris speaking at the forum encouraged the Palestinian business community to visit Sri Lanka and explore the potential investment opportunities available in the country, especially in the areas of service and IT industries.

The Coordinating Secretary of the Palestinian Private Sector Establishments Mohamad Masooji, said that he hopes meetings such as the one today with President Rajapaksa will help Sri Lanka and Palestine move towards establishing a joint business council.

Others present included Palestine's Minister of National Economy Jawad Naji, Palestinian Ambassador in Sri Lanka Dr. Anwar Al-Agha and leading members of the Palestinian business community.

Yesterday, President Rajapaksa opened the Mahinda Rajapaksa Vocational Training Centre in Betunia.

Mayor of Betunia Ribhi W. Dola and the Governor of Ramallah Dr. Laila Ghammam received the President and First Lady Shiranthi Wickremasinghe Rajapaksa, who were accompanied by Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad Al-Maliki.

"You're contributing to the livelihoods of Palestinians and for building a good future for them so thank you very much for that," said Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Maliki speaking at the opening event.

"It's remarkable to see a president of another country dedicate so much of his energy to another cause," he said.

The vocational training center, funded by the Government of Sri Lanka, will help build expertise among the Palestinian working population in areas where Sri Lanka has expertise. Officials will now work on further developing the training center by establishing training programs in areas that Sri Lanka has expertise such as the tourism sector.

The Government of Sri Lanka also donated books and computers to the Betunia Municipal Library.

Calling President Rajapaksa "a special, special, special guest," the Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister said the President's visit is "historic in all its dimensions."

"It reflects a milestone in the special relationship between Sri Lanka and Palestine," Mr. Maliki said.

Following the opening of the training center, President Rajapaksa arrived at the Betunia Municipality Park to plant an olive tree. Afterwards, the President and the First Lady visited the Sri Lanka Representative Office and saw the road named after the President, which is located opposite the Representative Office. The road was named "H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa Road" in November 2007 in appreciation of President Rajapaksa's work as the Founder President of the Sri Lanka Committee for Solidarity with Palestine.

Minister of External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris, Monitoring MP of the Ministry of External Affairs Sajin de Vaas Gunawardena, Parliamentarians Mrs. Kamala Ranatunga and Roshan Ranasinghe and Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga were also present.

(Photos by Sudath Silva)

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