Maldives - Sri Lanka to expand cooperation
President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka (r) and President of the Maldives Abdullah Yameen (l)
President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the visiting President of the Maldives Abdullah Yameen agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in many fields including trade, economy, banking and finance, fisheries, agriculture, education, defence and maritime and culture.
The two leaders, after identifying the areas of cooperation at the bilateral talks held at the Presidential Secretariat on January 22, advised the Joint Economic Commission to take follow up action on all areas of cooperation.
External affairs Minister Prof G. L. Peiris, Senior Minister A. H. M. Fowzie, Economic Affairs Minister Basil Rajapaksa and several other cabinet ministers and secretaries to the ministries were in the Sri Lankan team for the bilateral discussions and the Maldivian side included the Foreign Minister Ms Dunya Maumoon and other ministers and the leaders of coalition partners of the Maldivian ruling alliance.
The Maldivian President commended President Rajapaksa for establishing peace and stability in the country and taking Sri Lanka towards rapid prosperity and assured his country’s support to Sri Lanka at every juncture as a good friendly neighbor and a well-wisher.
President Rajapaksa thanked the Maldivian leader and assured support for its development programmes of the Maldives. He agreed to provide more placements for Maldivian students in Sri Lankan universities and offered training facilities in professional training institutions and defence training centres.
President Yameen agreed to explore the possibility of giving ‘innocent passage’ to Sri Lankan fishing vessels to international waters through Maldivian waters under the UN Law of the Sea. This was requested by Fisheries Minister Dr. Rajitah Senaratne during the talks. Dr Senaratne also urged the Maldivian side to purchase boats from Sri Lanka as the boat industries in this country has made rapid progress. Prof. Peris pointed out that the Seychelles has highly commended the Sri Lankan boat and shipping industry and agreed to place orders for their requirement of all boats and small ships to Sri Lankan firms.
The two countries agreed to look into the well being of citizens of one country employed in the other. There are 9,000 Maldivians living in Sri Lanka and 10,000 Sri Lankans are employed in that country.
The two countries also agreed to expedite exchange of prisoners and explore the possibility of removing travel visa requirements. The Joint Commission will also take up the proposal for double taxation agreement, finance and remittance agreement and expansion of maritime agreement with Sri Lanka, Maldives and India.
President Yameen extended an invitation to President Rajapaksa to visit his country and the latter accepted the invitation.
Photo and Story Presidential Secretariat, Sri Lanka