President Mamnoon Hussain has said that Pakistan and Sri Lanka should continue making joint efforts for turning South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) into a model regional organization of mutual cooperation and progress.
The President was talking to his Sri Lankan counterpart President Maithripala Sirisena at Aiwan-e-Sadr on Monday.
Extending a warm welcome to the visiting dignitary and his delegation, the President emphasized the great importance Pakistan attaches to its friendly relations with Sri Lanka. The President called for further strengthening the relations between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in all important spheres including political, economic and defense. The President said that both countries have the potential to take bilateral trade and economic ties to new heights.
The President underscored the importance of SAARC as an important vehicle for regional cooperation and the promotion of peace, stability and progress. The President said that SAARC has the potential to become an engine of growth for the regional and global economy adding that its member states have been blessed with rich human capital and abundant natural resources.
The President said that the present trade volume (approx.US $ 438 million) does not reflect the true trade potential between the two countries, and proposed that efforts be made to increase bilateral trade to US$ 1 billion in the coming years. The President expressed confidence that the signing of various MOUs/Agreements in different fields earlier in the day would go a long way toward further enhancing Pakistan’s relations with Sri Lanka. The President expressed satisfaction at the successful completion of various international projects including the ID Card Project by NADRA and expressed hope that Sri Lanka will continue to utilise NADRA’s services in future.
The President expressed hope that Pakistan and Sri Lanka would continue the tradition of supporting each other’s candidatures at various UN and other international bodies, as they have been doing in the past.
The President stated that Pakistan is home to Buddhist Civilization, which provides great potential for bilateral cooperation in promoting religious tourism between the two countries. Enhanced people-to-people contacts should be facilitated for further cementing bilateral bond, added the President.
The President also expressed his condolences on the tragic death of President Maithripala Sirisena’s brother Mr. Priyantha Sirisena. The President stated that the Sri Lankan President’s visit to Pakistan despite his personal loss reflects the importance he attaches to his country’s relations with Pakistan.
Speaking on the occasion, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said that Pakistan is a sincere friend and brotherly country adding that the whole Sri Lankan nation respect Pakistan. He thanked President Mamnoon Hussain on Pakistan’s support in UN Security Council and UN human rights forum.
Condemning the tragic attack on Sri Lankan Cricket Team in Lahore in 2009, President Mamnoon Hussain expressed hope that Sri Lankan Cricket Team will tour Pakistan and assured that maximum security will be provided. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena assured that Sri Lankan cricket team will soon visit Pakistan. President Mamnoon Hussain also congratulated his Sri Lankan counterpart on Sangakara’s world record of making four centuries in cricket World Cup 2015.
The President said that Pakistan desires friendly relations with all its neighbors. The President stated that Pakistan wants a constructive, sustained and result-oriented dialogue with India on all issues of mutual concern including Kashmir. The President also said that Pakistan fully supports a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.
The President expressed hope that Sri Lankan President’s visit will further reinforce bilateral partnership between the two countries. The two dignitaries also agreed on further strengthening bilateral cooperation in defence and security matters. Later, President Mamnoon Hussain also hosted state banquet in honor of his Sri Lankan counterpart.
Earlier, upon arrival Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena was warmly received by President Mamnoon Hussain and children presented bouquets to the visiting guest.