By Bushra Makhdoom
ISLAMABAD – Pakistan and Sri Lanka Saturday signed three Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) here at Prime Minister House to further promote cooperation in trade, technical education and media.
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa witnessed the signing ceremony here at Prime Minister House along with the members of their delegations.
The first MoU was signed for the cooperation in media and it was signed by Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Aishaq Awan on behalf of Pakistan and Minister for External Affairs Prof G.L Peiris signed the MoU on behalf of Sri Lanaka.
The second MoU signed by Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance and Economic Affairs Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and Sri Lankan Minister for External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris on behalf of their respective government for credit of US dollars 200 million for improving Pakistan's export from Sri Lanka.
The third MoU was signed by Secretary Ministry of Professional and Technical Education Qamar Zaman Chaudhry and Secretary to President of Sri Lanka Lalith Weerathunga on behalf of Sri Lankan government for enhancing cooperation in technical training in different fields.
The MoU was signed for the cooperation between National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTEC) of Pakistan and Tertiary And Vocational Education Commission of Sri Lanka. Under the agreement to promote cooperation in media, both the countries will enhance the exchange of news stories, special programmes, important publications to highlight the historical, cultural, social, sports and literature of the two countries through radio, tv, agencies and information establishments.
The two countries will also explore the avenues for joint productions of documentary fields on topics of national and historical interests. Under this MoU, the two countries will also exchange of visits and training facilities of the tv, radio and print journalists experts media managers and trainees on reciprocal basis.
Agencies Add: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and visiting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa held talks here at Prime Minister House and decided to further enhance and promote bilateral cooperation in economy, trade and defence, media, technical education and other sectors. Pakistan and Sri Lanka have decided to expand bilateral economic ties and explore new avenues of cooperation to take the relationship to new heights.
The visiting distinguished guest President of Sri Lanka held one-o-one meeting with Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani which was followed by delegation level talks. The two sides discussed expansion of cooperation in economy, trade, defence, agriculture, banking, shipping, culture, tourism and media.
It was also agreed that the two countries will increase bilateral trade from the present volume of dollars 375 million to dollars 2 billion with in next three years through joint ventures, and improving business to business relations especially in cement, sugar and agriculture sectors.
In his remarks, the Prime Minister emphasized the need for exploring the true potential of trade between the two countries.
Gilani said the commonality of views on different international and regional issues is the hallmark of the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
The Sri Lankan President said his country looks forward for expansion of trade and economic ties with Pakistan.
Both sides reaffirmed their special bonds of affinity existing between the two countries.
The Sri Lankan President extended his deep sense of gratitude to Pakistan for helping in surmounting the cause of terrorism in his country.
The Prime Minister said that Pakistani nation was happy that Sri Lanka was on the trajectory of development and progress with 8% per annum GDP growth.
The Sri Lankan President agreed to continue the defence cooperation between the two countries.
The Prime Minister said that the concurrence of MoU by the Sri Lankan government may be expedited.
Both sides agreed to make Joint Ministerial Commission more effective aimed at enhancing cooperation in all sectors compatible to their ties. Next meeting of the Joint Ministerial Commission will be held in Colombo this year.
Sri Lanka and Pakistan agreed to explore opportunities of investments in various sectors especially in the fields of construction, education, cement, agriculture and shipping.
Both sides also agreed to explore the vistas in the fields of banking and the State Bank of Pakistan would discuss the currency swap to boost trade between the two countries. The establishment of National Bank of Pakistan in Sri Lanka was also discussed, the establishment of which will increase trade between the two countries.
Both the sides also agreed to enhance trade between the two countries up to two billion dollars during the next three years.
The two sides emphasized on the need to exchange Parliamentary and Media delegations aimed at enhancing people to people contact to further strengthen the relations between the people of the two countries.
Both the sides agreed to extend technical cooperation in the fields of agriculture and textile in which Pakistan has developed expertise.
In the delegation level talks, Pakistan side comprised Minister for Foreign Affairs Mrs Hina Rabbani Khar, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Minister for Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Minister for State & Frontier Regions Engr. Shaukatullah, Chairman Board of Investment, Secretaries for Defence, Professional and Technical Training and Foreign Affairs, Pakistan High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and other senior officials.
Sri Lankan side included Minister for External Affairs Hon Prof G.L. Peiris, High Commissioner to Pakistan Air Chief Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody, Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development Hon. Duminda Dissanayake, Deputy Minister of Technology and Research Hon Faiszer Musthapha and senior officials.
Later, the Prime Minister hosted a luncheon reception in honour of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa and members of his delegation.
The luncheon reception was also attended by members of the cabinet, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman and other high officials.