COLOMBO: Prime Minister Imran Khan calls on Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa, during his visit to Sri Lanka, Tuesday.

COLOMBO: Prime Minister Imran Khan has emphasised on finding ways and means to enhance trade and connectivity through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor right up to Central Asia for Sri Lanka.
Addressing the joint presser along with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said that Pakistan is part of the Belt and Road Initiative of China and CPEC is the flagship project of this programme, which offers great opportunities of connectivity and trade.
Imran Khan said, “We discussed areas where we can enhance trading ties between Pakistan and Sri Lanka and the latter can get maximum benefit from the connectivity being offered by the former.”
Prime Minister Khan said that his country and Sri Lanka share common problem of terrorism as both the countries have suffered a lot due to this menace. He said that Pakistan faced a worst kind of terrorism for ten years and lost around 70,000 people.
Imran Khan said that Pakistan played its part in helping Sri Lanka curb terrorism from its soil, which was impeding development, growth and tourism. He said that no country can progress if there is terrorism.
He said now the two countries, along with other nations of the world, are facing another problem of the coronavirus. He said the COVID-19 pandemic hit the poor countries the most and they should be entitled to get debt relief from the richer nations.
Inviting the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka to visit Pakistan, Imran Khan, “My country has the greatest Buddhist heritage sites and we recently discovered a 40-feet long sleeping Buddha.” He said the northern areas of Pakistan are the centre of ancient Gandhara Civilisation in the region. He also invited people from Sri Lanka to visit Pakistan as it is planning for a Buddhist trail to attract the Buddhist community from all over the world.
Imran Khan also thanked his Sri Lankan counterpart for a warm welcome to him and his delegation.
Speaking on the occasion, Mahinda Rajapaksa said, “We have agreed to enhance bilateral ties in the fields of economy, trade, investment, education, defence, tourism, aviation and other sectors.” He said a framework for Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and enhancing parliamentary interactions between the two countries were also discussed.
Mahinda Rajapaksa said, “We have agreed to work together to fight terrorism and armed struggle through sharing of information.” He said that political stability and regional peace will be key to achieving sustainable development, economic growth and prosperity in South Asia.
He also acknowledged Pakistan’s support to curb terrorism from Sri Lankan soil and thanked Islamabad for its cooperation in the realm of sports.
Mahinda Rajapaksa thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan for visiting Sri Lanka on his invitation.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan held a one-on-one meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees in Colombo. Matters related to mutual interests and bilateral relations came under discussion.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan left for Sri Lanka accompanied by the country’s foreign minister and advisers on commerce and overseas Pakistanis, the PM office said. Khan will be in Sri Lanka on February 23 and 24 and hold bilateral talks covering trade and investment, health and education, agriculture and science and technology, defence and security, and culture and tourism. Key regional and international issues will also be discussed, the Pakistani foreign ministry has said.
“This is Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first visit to Sri Lanka since taking office,” Khan’s office said in a statement. “Prime Minister Imran Khan will meet the President of Sri Lanka and his counterpart.” – TLTP