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Sri Lanka - Malaysia bilateral ties strengthened

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H.E. the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, Dato' Seri Syed Hamid Albar visited Sri Lanka from 21st - 23rd June 2006 to participate in the inaugural session of the Sri Lanka - Malaysia Joint Commission Meeting. The Minister's first official visit to Sri Lanka was at the invitation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, the Honourable Mangala Samaraweera. Dato' Seri Syed Hamid Albar was accompanied by his wife, Datin Seri Sharifah Aziah Syed Zainal Abidin and senior officials. The High Commissioner of Malaysia in Sri Lanka, H.E. Ms. Nazirah Hussain was a member of the delegation. Malaysia's private sector was also represented.

Senior officials from the line Ministries and agencies in Sri Lanka constituted the Sri Lanka delegation, including Sri Lanka's High Commissioner in Malaysia, Mr. C.D. Casie Chetty. Private Sector participants on the Sri Lanka side were led by the Chairman of the Sri Lanka - Malaysia Business Council, Mr. Rohitha de Silva.

During the visit, the Malaysian Foreign Minister called on His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, the President of Sri Lanka and the Honourable Prime Minister, Mr. Ratnasiri Wickramanayake and the Honourable Foreign Minister, Mr. Mangala Samaraweera and discussed a number of matters of mutual interest. The talks were conducted in a warm and friendly atmosphere reflecting the close ties between the two sides.

The Joint Commission focussed on a number of issues of interest to both sides covering economic and commercial matters, technical and scientific cooperation and cooperation in areas such as tourism, culture, sports, immigration and human resources development. Both sides reviewed the overall state of bilateral relations and acknowledged the satisfactory development of relations between the two countries. With regard to trade, both sides noted with satisfaction, the increasing trend in bilateral trade between Malaysia and Sri Lanka and agreed to work towards strengthening bilateral trade, taking advantage of opportunities both in a bilateral and regional framework. On investments, both sides noted with satisfaction the active participation and interest shown by the Malaysian Private Sector in Sri Lanka. Malaysia remains one of the largest investors in Sri Lanka. The Malaysian side took note of Sri Lanka's proposal for the participation of Malaysian investors in a dedicated Export Processing Zone. Both sides agreed to further enhance cooperation in investment promotional activities for their mutual benefit. Malaysian investors were invited to invest in high sea fishing and aquaculture as well as in port development and in power projects utilising biomass.

Both countries agreed to boost tourism cooperation between Malaysia and Sri Lanka as tourist destinations. They also noted with satisfaction, the excellent bilateral cooperation in air services between the two countries particularly in the ?Open Skies Arrangements? which had been agreed upon recently.

The two sides agreed to cooperate in dealing with disasters such as the 2004 Tsunami through a programme of workshops, seminars and capacity building measures.

On the occasion of the celebration of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Sri Lanka in 2007, the two sides agreed to hold a series of events that would further enhance the strong ties that exist between their peoples and governments. They agreed that an exchange of high level visits should be undertaken to mark this occasion.

It was agreed that the next meeting of the Joint Commission would be held in Malaysia in 2007 on dates to be mutually agreed upon through diplomatic channels.

At the conclusion of the Joint Commission Meeting, the Sri Lankan and Malaysian sides signed a Supplemental Memorandum of Understanding on Building an Expressway between Colombo and Kandy on a build, operate and transfer basis. The MoU was signed in the presence of the two Foreign Ministers.

23rd June 2006
Colombo

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