July 20, Colombo: Portugal is interested in improving relationships with Sri Lanka further, Portugal's Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, who is on an official visit to Sri Lanka, said when he met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for discussions at Temple Trees today.
During the discussion with the President, Prime Minister Coelho said Portugal wanted "deeper relations" not only in the economic sector but also in the cultural and political areas as well.
He further stated that his visit to the country was a very good opportunity not only to discuss matters pertaining to bilateral relations between Portugal and Sri Lanka but also others of international significance.
This is Coelho's first visit to the island as Prime Minister.
Sri Lankan President explained to the Prime Minister the devastation the country experienced under the threat of terrorism, including how the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) destroyed all infrastructure in the North and East and even in other parts of the country while the "people lived in fear."
The President also said he was happy to see foreign leaders visiting Sri Lanka so that they can see for themselves the ground reality, pointing out that many leaders who came for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) last year were quite surprised to learn that what is reported in the media is far from the true reality in Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister Coelho was impressed to learn that Sri Lanka is currently seeing a GDP growth of 7.3 percent while the North has seen growth during the past few years in the range of 20-24 percent.
"It will take time to heal the wounds of war because a lot of young people died from the South and the North," President Rajapaksa said while describing Sri Lanka's commitment to the reconciliation process.
The Portuguese Prime Minister accompanied by a 20 member delegation arrived in the island on Sunday for a two-day official visit. During his stay he is scheduled to visit Galle.
The Ambassador of Portugal to Sri Lanka Mr. Jorge Roza de Oliveira along with several other advisors accompanied the Portuguese Prime Minister.
Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L Peiris, Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs, Mrs. Kshenuka Seneviratne and President's Chief of Staff Mr. Gamini Senarath also participated in the discussion.
(Photos by Sudath Silva)