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PM Imran arrives in Sri Lanka for first two-day visit

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ISLAMBAD:

Prime Minister Imran Khan said the purpose of his two-day official visit to Sri Lanka was to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.

He was addressing a joint press conference on Tuesday with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa following the one-on-one meeting in Colombo.

“We share a common problem of terrorism. Pakistan has suffered from the worst form of terrorism… Sri Lanka has also fought terrorism for 30 years and Pakistan has played its part to help the country, ”he said.

Prime Minister Imran said the two countries now also face the common problem of the coronavirus pandemic and added that he has discussed ways with his counterpart on how poor countries can get relief from the suspension of the debt of the developed world.

“The coronavirus has exposed the inequalities in the world and the United Nations should step in and help poor countries cope with the impact of the pandemic,” he added.

Prime Minister Imran said he had asked his delegation to find ways to improve trade relations with the island nation.

He also invited his counterpart to Pakistan and thanked him for his hospitality.

“We also discussed other areas where we can strengthen our trade relations, where Sri Lanka can benefit from Pakistan’s connectivity in the future to Central Asia, and our trade relations would also mean that the two countries would come closer, ”PM Imran said, referring to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Prime Minister Imran, while inviting the Sri Lankan Buddhist community to visit Pakistan, said the country probably has one of the world’s greatest tourist heirlooms and that he recently discovered the remains of a sleeping Buddha 1700 years old.

“We are planning a Buddhist path where all the major shrines and places of importance to the Buddhist community can be visited,” he added.

The joint bail follows a one-on-one meeting between the two leaders held at Temple Trees – the office of the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan is holding an individual meeting with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees in Colombo, Sri Lanka,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a tweet.

The two leaders affirmed their determination to strengthen relations in various fields during the meeting. The two sides focused on strengthening ties in the areas of trade and investment, health, education, agriculture and science and technology, security, culture and tourism.

Earlier on his arrival, Prime Minister Imran received a red carpet reception which was followed by an official welcoming ceremony, during which he received a 19-gun salute.

The Prime Minister also inspected an impressive guard of honor, following which the national anthems of both countries were played.

The prime minister also signed the guestbook, according to the official statement.

Read more: PM Imran leaves for first visit to Sri Lanka

Prime Minister Imran will meet with key Sri Lankan leaders, including President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to discuss issues of bilateral and regional importance.

Prime Minister Imran and Prime Minister Rajapaksa will also attend the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Conference.

Prime Minister Imran is accompanied by a high-level delegation, including members of the cabinet and senior government officials, including Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the statement said.

Delighted to arrive in Colombo with PM @ImranKhanPTI for his first visit to Sri Lanka. and share a close relationship, working together bilaterally and in international and regional forums. During this visit, all areas of cooperation will be discussed and strengthened. pic.twitter.com/K5iIAbWaVc

– Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) February 23, 2021

The two countries have maintained close ties since 1948. The Prime Minister’s visit is expected to further strengthen bilateral relations.

Prime Minister Imran is the first Pakistani leader to visit Sri Lanka after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa took office last year.



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