President returns after successful State visit to Bahrain

Thursday, 1 May 2014 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

President Mahinda Rajapaksa returned to Sri Lanka last evening after a successful two-day State visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain, the first by a Sri Lankan head of state to that country. The President left the country last Monday (28). A large gathering of well-wishers including Ministers, Parliamentarians and businessmen were present at the Katunayake Airport to welcome the President. During his stay in the Kingdom, President Rajapaksa was presented with the prestigious Khalifa Medal, the highest honour in the Kingdom of Bahrain. King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa said the medal was being presented to President Rajapaksa “in appreciation of your Excellency and your friendly country, and in recognition of the efforts you are personally exerting to move with bilateral ties to a higher level of development and progress”. The Order of Al-Khalifa was founded in 1940 and revived in the 1970s. The medal honours the dedication of the late Amir Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa to humanitarianism. The medal has been presented to a handful of notable leaders, including the King of Saudi Arabia, the Prime Minister of Malaysia and Queen Elizabeth II, among others. Upon receiving the medal, President Rajapaksa said: “I am humbled and honoured.” He added: “With Bahrain, we seek to build an enhanced dynamic partnership. The kind words, gracious hospitality and warm interactions will leave enduring and fond memories of this State visit, for me and my delegation, which undoubtedly will translate into active cooperation.” During the President’s visit, Sri Lanka and Bahrain signed three Memoranda of Understanding on sports, culture and arts, and one of them was between the University of Colombo and the University of Bahrain. The agreements aim to further collaboration and strengthen relations between the two nations. President Rajapaksa was received at the Al-Sakhir Palace by King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, the Prime Minister of Bahrain Prince Khalifa bin Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and other high-level Bahraini officials. Prior to the signing, President Rajapaksa received a warm welcome at the Palace. During bilateral discussions, the two leaders discussed a number of matters of mutual interest while also expressing the mutual support of the two countries in the international arena. Bahrain’s Prime Minister hosted a luncheon in honour of the visiting President. Prior to the luncheon, the two leaders met briefly along with the respective delegations. Discussions focused on improving already-existing friendly relations. The high-level visits between both countries have recently enhanced ties between the two nations. President Rajapaksa also met with the members of the Sri Lanka community in Bahrain at the Ritz-Carlton on 29 April at a reception organised by the Sri Lankan Embassy. A Sri Lanka-Bahrain Business Forum was also launched during the President’s visit.