Seychelles President concludes historic State visit to Sri Lanka

Saturday, 25 August 2012 03:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Seychelles President Seychelles President James Alix Michel concludes a historic state visit to Sri Lanka heralding a new chapter in Seychelles-Sri Lanka relations in pursuit of common endeavours towards strengthening closer friendship and economic cooperation between the two countries in a variety of fields, with enormous benefits for the two countries and their peoples.

President Michel, thanked President Rajapaksa for inviting him to Sri Lanka and appreciated the warm reception and hospitality extended to the Seychelles delegation. President Michel lauded President Rajapaksa’s vision and leadership in ushering peace to the country and the remarkable economic progress achieved during the last few years.

President Michel arrived in Sri Lanka on 20 August on a three-day state visit accompanied by Foreign Minister Jean-Paul Adam, Natural Resources and Industry Minister Peter Sinon and a 15-member high powered delegation. It was the first state visit from Seychelles to Sri Lanka since the establishment of Diplomatic Relations in 1988.

President Rajapaksa extended a warm welcome to the Seychelles President and valued the role played by Seychelles in regional and multilateral fora in promoting and defending the interests of small island states. President Rajapaksa noted with gratitude the support extended by Seychelles at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The bilateral discussions between President Rajapaksa and President Michel were held in a frank and cordial manner, reflecting the excellent bilateral relations and friendship between the two countries. President Rajapaksa welcomed the Seychelles President’s proposal on initiating a grouping of Indian Ocean Island States towards safeguarding their interests against threats such as piracy and maritime security, environmental issues and sustainability, terrorism etc. based on common interests.

“Though the economies of Sri Lanka and Seychelles are not equal in terms of absolute numbers, both economies show some resemblance on their sources of current and potential earnings such as tourism, fisheries and offshore businesses. The synergies, therefore, can be explored in these sectors between the two nations,” observed President Rajapaksa.

Importance of working together to fight against piracy with the view to protecting the sea transportation in the region, possibilities to enhance economic cooperation, diversifying Sri Lankan products and encouraging public private partnership were also highlighted by President Rajapaksa. Elaborating further, President Michel also invited Sri Lankan business community to visit Seychelles and to enjoy the larger African market through the Common Market for Eastern and South Africa (COMESA). While highlighting air transport and sea transport as most important aspects for linking two countries, President Michel invited Sri Lankan Airlines to fly to Victoria and beyond the African subcontinent. He also invited Sri Lankan Defence officials to share its expertise and know-how on maritime security and piracy with Seychelles.

The two leaders agreed that Seychelles-Sri Lanka relations have diversified over the years and that there is much scope for increased cooperation and to further harness the enormous potential that exists in the fisheries, human resources, economic, tourism, investment, education, health and technology sectors for mutual benefit. The two leaders also expressed their strong commitment and support to enhance economic cooperation, air and sea connectivity and encourage Public-Private Partnerships between the two countries, so as to deepen the people to people relations.

President Rajapaksa invited the business delegation/fact finding mission from Seychelles to Sri Lanka in order to identify the potential import/export as well as investment opportunities. Towards this end, President Rajapaksa stated that he would direct authorities to consider the possibilities of opening a Bank of Ceylon branch in Seychelles. Seychelles President Michel assured his government’s fullest cooperation and support for Sri Lanka in the international fora. During the visit, Seychelles President visited the Colombo Dockyard, Colombo International Nautical and Engineering College (CINEC) and the Navy In-shore Petrol Craft Construction Project (IPCCP).