Sri Lanka, Maldives agree to strengthen bilateral cooperation

Saturday, 25 August 2012 03:17 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Leaders of Sri Lanka and Maldives agree to extend and strengthen bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues when they met for discussions on Thursday.

President of Maldives Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik accompanied by First Lady Ilham Hussain arrived in Sri Lanka on Thursday on a two-day official visit. His Sri Lankan counterpart President Mahinda Rajapaksa welcomed the Maldivian leader at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo.

The two Presidents discussed expanding bilateral cooperation in human resource development, defence and security and protection of resources and sea lanes in the Indian Ocean.

The Maldivian President requested Sri Lanka’s continued assistance in maritime security, strengthening coast guard activities and marine engineering and in the training of air traffic control personnel.

Dr. Waheed said that the close ties between the two countries in areas such as tourism, health, fisheries, and youth affairs would continue to grow.

Emphasising Sri Lanka’s role in modernising education in the tiny atoll, the visiting President appreciated the contribution of Sri Lankan teachers in building the human resource base in the Maldives.

The Maldivian leader sought Sri Lanka’s assistance by the Sri Lanka Navy in training police personnel, special forces units and squadrons.

He extended an invitation to Sri Lanka to participate in forthcoming coastguard exercises, which would be a unique demonstration of cooperation among Sri Lanka, India and Maldives.

President Rajapaksa said that Sri Lanka had noted the recent political transition in the Maldives and was eagerly following developments.

“Sri Lanka believes that political transition and changes should not harm the peace, prosperity and stability in a country. It is my wish to see the Maldives as a stable and prosperous country and the blessings of the Sri Lankan people are with you,” President Rajapaksa said.

Before departing for Sri Lanka, President Waheed had told Maldivian media that Sri Lankan leaders had always been compassionate towards the Maldives and that he gets direct suggestions forwarded to him from them.

President Rajapaksa thanked the Maldivian Leader for extending support at the 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva earlier this year.

The Sri Lankan President reiterated Sri Lanka’s support to strengthen Maldivian defence forces by providing further training opportunities, in addition to the present training provided in the areas of military, bomb disposal, coast guard and maritime and air defence.

Sri Lankan defence and law enforcement agencies work closely with their Maldivian counterparts on the prevention of narcotics, weapons and human smuggling, President Rajapaksa noted.

The President said that Sri Lanka expected the fullest cooperation of the Maldives to activate the already-established SAARC Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk (STOMD) and the SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk in Colombo.

President Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka encouraged closer cooperation in security and intelligence including maritime security establishments to safeguard sea lanes in the Indian Ocean.