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* Pakistan President suggests increasing bilateral trade with Sri Lanka to US$ 1.5 billion
Sun, Jan 19, 2014, 02:59 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jan 19, Islamabad: Pakistan's President Mamnoon Hussain Saturday has said that both Pakistan and Sri Lanka working towards to increase the bilateral trade US$ 1.5 billion by next year by making Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries more conducive.

President Hussain suggested this when Sri Lanka's Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management Nimal Siripala De Silva called on the President at his official residence Aiwan-e-Sadr on Saturday, according to an official release.

Noting that that there is a huge potential, especially in economic sectors that needed to be fully tapped, the Pakistani President has said that concerted efforts were required to avail the existing economic opportunities for enhancing mutual cooperation.

Echoing the Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the President has also emphasized that the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries that was in effect since 2005 should be made more conducive by increasing the volume of trade.

Referring to the meetings between the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Sri Lankan President in New York in September 2013 and in Colombo in November 2013, the Pakistani President has observed that mutual exchange of business delegations and greater interaction among the business communities of the two countries would provide momentum to the efforts aimed at further promoting mutual cooperation in various areas for the mutual benefit of the people of the two countries.

President Hussain also has discussed the Pakistan-Sri Lanka bilateral relations and the way forward to further strengthening the existing equation with the Sri Lankan Minister.

While expressing satisfaction over the existing ties of the two countries, President Hussain has observed that Pakistan attached great importance to its relations with Sri Lanka and noted that a strong political will existed in Pakistan to further develop and promote its bilateral relations with Sri Lanka.

Discussing mutual cooperation and support of the country to Sri Lanka in overcoming various challenges including the threat from terrorism, the President appreciated the valiant struggle waged by government and the people of Sri Lanka against the menace of terrorism.

He assured the visiting Minister that Pakistan would continue providing support to Sri Lanka at all foras including the international forums.

Minister De Silva thanked the President and the Government of Pakistan for the support to his country and said that Sri Lankan government and people were also keen to further strengthen their relations with the government and the people of Pakistan, the release said.

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