Sri Lankan and Palestinian leaders agree to strengthen relations

Tuesday, 7 January 2014 00:39 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived in Palestine from Jordan yesterday on a two-day visit and held bilateral discussions at the Presidential Palace in Ramallah with President of the State of Palestine Dr. Mahmoud Abbas During the friendly and warm discussion President Abbas recalled his two visits to Sri Lanka respectively in 2008 and 2012. “I am honoured to receive you,” the Palestinian President said while emphasising the longstanding cordial relations between Palestine and Sri Lanka. “Our two countries maintain good relations and I wish it will improve more and more,” he added. “We are very grateful,” Dr. Abbas expressed his gratitude for the support that Sri Lanka extended for Palestine to gain the status as a Non-member Observer State in the United Nations. President Abbas updated President Rajapaksa on the ongoing peace process with Israel. “Sri Lanka will always support your cause,” President Rajapaksa assured. “We hope that we will have an independent Palestine as soon as possible,” he said. “Relations between our two countries get stronger year after year,” President Rajapaksa added. President Rajapaksa apprised the Palestinian President of the current developments in Sri Lanka. President Rajapaksa said that within a short period of four years following the end of the conflict, Sri Lanka has made significant progress, in terms of reconstruction, resettlement, rehabilitation, reintegration and reconciliation. President Rajapaksa also briefed Dr. Abbas on Northern Provincial Council elections. While noting that there has been no single terrorist incident reported in Sri Lanka since 2009, President Rajapaksa said in comparison to other provinces in the country more resources have been allocated for the development of Northern and Eastern Provinces. The President also said that Sri Lankan government took a calculated risk in releasing the rehabilitated child soldiers into the society within a short period of time. Followed by bilateral discussions, the two leaders witnessed the signing of the Agreement on Establishment of Sri Lanka-Palestine Joint Commission and the signing of the MoU on Establishment of the Mahinda Rajapaksa Vocational Training Centre. Minister of External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris, Monitoring MP of the Ministry of External Affairs Sajin de Vaas Gunawardena, Parliamentarians Kamala Ranatunga and Roshan Ranasinghe, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Jordan Gamini Rajapaksa are accompanying the President.