At the invitation of H.E. Professor G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, paid an official visit to Sri Lanka from December 18 to 21, 2012, marking the first ever bilateral visit undertaken by an Afghan Foreign Minister to Sri Lanka.

The two Foreign Ministers discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and exchanged views on regional and international issues of common interest. In strengthening bilateral relations, an Agreement in the fields of Economic, Educational, Scientific and Technical Cooperation as well as a MoU on Cultural Cooperation, viewed by the Ministers as the core component of stronger Sri Lanka- Afghanistan relations, were signed between the two countries.

The official discussions between the two sides were marked by friendship, mutual respect and understanding. The Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan noted that the two countries share a common cultural and historical heritage that will pave way for the regional cooperation which is an impetus to build a multi-faceted partnership between the two countries.

The official bilateral discussions focused mainly on the areas of cooperation in the fields of trade and commerce, culture, legal consultations, employment opportunities and education. The urgent need for development of professional and skilled manpower in Afghanistan was reiterated on at the Meeting. In this regard, a bilateral agreement for providing professional and skilled labour to Afghanistan was proposed by Sri Lanka.  Afghanistan welcomed the participation of Sri Lankan professionals and skilled manpower to rebuild Afghanistan.

Sri Lanka was requested to provide more placements in its universities in the disciplines of medicine, engineering, agriculture and technology. Sri Lanka responded positively to the request of Afghanistan and offered to consider more placements in the universities on a fee-levying basis in addition to two gratis placements.

Both sides noted that they could draw inspiration from each other’s experiences as both countries are re-emerging from the shadows of conflict and facing formidable challenges in the areas of reconciliation and reconstruction. Afghanistan also showed interest in learning from the experiences of Sri Lanka in the areas of demining and counter-insurgency.

Both Ministers emphasized the significance of this historic visit of the Afghan Foreign Minister to Sri Lanka and with a view to further consolidating the political, economic and socio-cultural relations, announced the decision to open Embassies in both capitals.

During the visit, Minister of Foreign of Afghanistan called on H.E. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and also met Mr. Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development and Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary, Ministry of Defence and Urban Development of Sri Lanka.

During this visit, H.E. Dr. Rassoul delivered a Lecture on “Afghanistan today and beyond 2014” at the Main Conference Hall of the Ministry of External Affairs and visited the Southern Province of Sri Lanka.

 

 

 

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