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President Sirisena off to Philippines next week

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MANILA: President Maithripala Sirisena is slated to visit the Philippines on Tuesday upon the invitation of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

The Sri Lankan Leader’s State visit from 15 to 19 January is the first high-level visit by a foreign government leader to the Philippines this year.

DFA Asst. Sec. Elmer Cato said Sirisena will be holding bilateral discussions with the Chief Executive on areas of mutual interest, including political, economic, cultural, and people-to-people engagement.

The Sri Lankan Head’s itinerary includes a trip to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños.

According to the agency, Sirisena will be the first Sri Lankan leader, serving both as Head of State and Government under Sri Lanka’s 1978 Constitution, to visit the country and the second since the two states established formal diplomatic ties in 1961.

On Friday (11 January) the two nations celebrated the 58th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

The high-level visit also comes months after the two states concluded their second political consultations mechanism in Manila last October 2018.

At present, Sri Lanka and the Philippines are exploring ways to expand engagement on trade and investment, defence, education, tourism, labour migration, agriculture, and mutual legal assistance.

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