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* Bolivian State Assembly to honor Sri Lankan President with Order of the Democratic Merit
Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 12:41 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

June 16, La Paz: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who traveled to Bolivia to participate in the G77+China Summit in Santa Cruz , arrived in the Bolivian city of La Paz on Monday (June 16) morning.

The President was received by high-level Bolivian officials at the El Alto International Airport and welcomed with military honors. The officials were of the opinion that President Rajapaksa's visit to Bolivia is a milestone in bilateral relations between the two countries.

President Rajapaksa said this is a new beginning in bilateral relations with both Bolivia and South America overall.

The President visited the Bolivian Parliament known as the State Assembly and was welcomed by the Bolivian Foreign Minister Mr. David Choquehuanca Céspedes.

While at the State Assembly, President Rajapaksa will hold bilateral discussion with the Bolivian President and be honored with one of the State Assembly's highest awards - "Order of the Democratic Merit".

On Sunday, the President held bilateral discussions with several world leaders at the Expo Cruz Export Center in Santa Cruz on the sidelines of the G77+China summit.

President of Equatorial Guinea Mr. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Prime Minister of Gabon Mr. Daniel Ona Ondo, President of Uruguay Mr. JoséMujica, and Cuban President Raul Castro met President Rajapaksa for bilateral discussions.

President Rajapaksa explaining the devastation caused by the three-decade long war against the Tamil Tiger terrorist organization noted that the human losses and property damage were enormous.

However, the government was able to defeat the terrorists through a military strategy, President Rajapaksa explained to world leaders.

"Following the end of the conflict, we embarked on a journey to develop the country rapidly," President Rajapaksa said.

Even though there is much progress being achieved by Sri Lanka, certain external forces are trying to destabilize the country again with accusations of human rights violations, President Rajapaksa added.

Leaders of Gabon, Uruguay and Equatorial Guinea expressed their gratitude to President Rajapaksa for apprising them of the real situation in Sri Lanka. This enlightenment will be truly helpful when taking future decisions, they said. "Even my country is being subjected to external influence," Uruguay President Mr. José Mujica said.

During these discussions, attention was drawn to enhancing bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and those countries in the fields of economy, trade, investment and tourism.

(Photos by Sudath Silva)

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