Mar 07, Colombo: Sri Lanka and Afghanistan have agreed to increase bilateral ties and intensify cooperation to achieve concrete results in several areas for the mutual benefit.
During the bilateral discussions held yesterday between the representatives of the two countries, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan agreed to enhance Sri Lanka's involvement in the Afghan economy through the Joint Commission process.
The two sides agreed to lead the Sri Lanka-Afghanistan Joint Commission established under the 2012 Agreement on Economic, Educational, Scientific and Technological Cooperation at External/ Foreign Affairs Ministerial level.
The Joint Commission focuses on issues pertaining to education and human resource development, health, manpower and employment, sports, cultural cooperation and exchange, agriculture, and, trade, commerce and investment.
The two sides have agreed to consider, through the Joint Commission process, enhancing Sri Lanka's involvement in the Afghan economy through exports and widening opportunities for Sri Lankan companies in IT, infrastructure, and construction, architectural and engineering services.
Both sides have agreed for the Joint Commission to convene in the third quarter of 2014.
The bilateral discussions were held during the three-day state visit of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, accompanied by a high powered delegation, from 5-7 March at the invitation of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The two leaders on Thursday held one-on-one discussions, which were followed by talks covering a range of bilateral issues as well as regional and multilateral matters of mutual interest.
During the discussions, the two leaders agreed that both countries could draw inspiration from their respective experiences in dealing with and emerging from conflict, particularly in overcoming the scourge of terrorism, and post-conflict development.
They emphasized the need to further intensify efforts to reach concrete results in the areas the Joint Commission focuses on and defense.
Four Agreements/ Memoranda of Understanding were signed during the Afghan President's visit.
Memoranda of Understanding on cooperation in the Field of Education, cooperation in Training of Afghanistan Nurses in Sri Lanka, cooperation in the field of Sports and an agreement on the Employment of Sri Lankan Skilled and Professional Manpower in Afghanistan, were signed during the discussions.
In the area of Defense, Sri Lanka agreed to increase the number of scholarships offered at the Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) from two to four placements, provide short-term training opportunities in the intelligence field and, on-field mine clearance. They also agreed to consider ways and means of facilitating and ensuring the full utilization of the scholarships offered by Sri Lanka, including at the Defence Services Command and Staff College and the KDU.
In Trade, Economic and Commercial relations, the two sides agreed to enhance the economic and commercial relationship and agreed to consider concluding an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA).
In cementing the bilateral cooperation Sri Lanka will establish a resident mission in Kabul shortly. The Embassy of Afghanistan in Colombo was established on 29th October 2013.
Concluding the discussions the Afghan President extended an invitation to his Sri Lankan counterpart to visit Afghanistan and President Rajapaksa accepted the invitation.