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* Sri Lanka to expand political and economic cooperation with Spain and Turkey
Thu, May 29, 2014, 07:09 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

May 29, Colombo: Sri Lanka has expressed its interest in expanding political and economic ties with Spain and Turkey, especially in the areas of trade, investment and tourism.

Sri Lanka's External Affairs Minister Professor G.L. Peiris indicated that the island nation is keen to enhance bilateral ties with the two countries when he held discussions with his counterparts of Spain and Turkey on the 17th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Foreign Ministers Conference on Wednesday in Algiers.

The two-day conference of the foreign ministers of the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement kicked off Wednesday at the Palace of Nations in Algiers and it will end today.

Minister Peiris held bilateral discussions with Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and Spain's Foreign Affairs Minister Manuel Garcia Marfil Wednesday on the sidelines of the meeting, the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement today.

(Sri Lanka's External Affairs Minister Professor G.L. Peiris with Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (L) and Spain's Foreign Affairs Minister Manuel Garcia Marfil (R))

During the meeting with Prof. Peiris, Turkey's Foreign Minister has commended Sri Lanka's recovery following the tsunami in December 2004, soon after which he had visited the country, and also the progress which Sri Lanka had made after the eradication of terrorism.

With direct airline connectivity now established between Colombo and Istanbul, the Turkish Minister has said that he has no doubt about the potential for further expansion of trade and tourism between the two countries

He has expressed interest in sending young diplomats from Turkey for exposure to the programs of training offered in Sri Lanka.

The two Ministers have noted a substantial overlap in the challenges confronting their countries and agreed on the need for closer political collaboration. They also decided to strengthen the Joint Economic Commission, chaired by the Minister of Commerce of Sri Lanka and the Minister of Finance of Turkey.

They have discussed their common experience in expanding co-operation with countries in Africa and Latin America as a central feature of their current foreign policy initiatives.

Sri Lankan Minister also held bilateral discussions with the Foreign Affairs Minister of Spain on Wednesday on the sidelines of the meeting.

Minister Peiris briefed his Spanish counterpart on Sri Lanka's current situation, with particular reference to issues connected with development and reconciliation. Trade, investment and tourism were other major topics, which the Ministers discussed at their meeting.

Minister Marfil informed Prof. Peiris about plans by the Government of Spain to open an Embassy in Colombo in the near future. The Foreign Minister of Spain has said that he considered this a timely development, having regard to the significantly enhanced ties between the two countries in a variety of sectors.

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