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Pakistan, Sri Lanka to join hands against terrorism, strengthen trade

COLOMBO, Nov 28 (APP): The leaders of Pakistan and Sri Lanka Sunday expressed resolve to join hands against terrorism and to build up their trade and economic relations.Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Dissanayake Mudiyanselage Jayaratne called on President Asif Ali Zardari here on Sunday and discussed ways to further strengthen ties between the two countries with a focus on exploring new avenues of cooperation.President Zardari who is on a four-day visit to the picturesque island nation is here to hold wide ranging talks with the Sri Lankan leaders to expand economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, that already have an operational Free Trade Agreement.Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar and Chairman Board of Investment (BOI) are part of President’s delegation.

President Zardari congratulated the Sri Lankan Prime Minister on defeating terrorism and apprised him of Pakistan’s successes in this regard. Prime Minister Jayaratne thanked Pakistan for its moral and material support in countering terrorism.
The President and the Sri Lankan Prime Minister said both countries stand to benefit more from increased military exchanges and training at a regular pace, besides sharing of counter-terrorism measures and sharing of experiences.
They also called for consolidating cooperation in all spheres including trade, health, education and culture.
The President also highlighted the need for high level parliamentary exchanges. The Sri Lankan Prime Minister said following the revival of the parliamentary association a delegation will visit Pakistan soon.
Spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar told APP that the President welcomed the revival of the Pak-Sri Lankan Parliamentary Association and called for regular exchanges at the Foreign Secretary level. He pointed that the last such exchange took place, way back in 2007 in Islamabad and the next one should be at Colombo at the earliest.
President Zardari said the economic ties between Pakistan and Sri Lanka need to be re-energized for optimal benefit from the FTA and to expand its scope for the benefit of the people of the two countries.
He stressed fast-tracking negotiations for including the services sector in the FTA for promoting investment and trade between the two countries.
The Sri Lankan Prime Minister said his country was keen to initiate new joint venture projects with Pakistan in several key areas and said the two private sectors can play a crucial role in this regard for the mutual good of the two peoples.
The two leaders discussed increased cooperation in financial and banking sectors.President Zardari said Pakistan values its relations with Sri Lanka and supports its territorial integrity and sovereignty. He said both the countries need to consult more frequently at multi lateral events.
The two leaders also exchanged views on preservation and promotion of the civilization heritage and increase of tourist traffic between the two countries.
Prime Minister Jayaratne appreciated the preservation and maintaining of the Buddhist heritage in Pakistan and said it would be a step forward towards building of a long lasting association between the two countries in all spheres.

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