Pak FM Qureshi meets Sri Lanka’s new leadership to boost bilateral ties

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COLOMBO, Dec 2 (AGENCIES): Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday met the new Sri Lankan leadership, including President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and discussed issues of trade, investment and tourism to further deepen the bilateral relations.

Qureshi arrived in Colombo on Sunday night on a two-day official visit to Sri Lanka to meet the country’s newly-elected leadership and convey to it a felicitation message of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

According to the Pakistan Foreign Office, Qureshi also handed over a letter from  President Arif Alvi to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and invited him to pay a visit to Islamabad at his earliest convenience.

“FM calls on the President of Sri Lanka. Bilateral issues, trade, investment and people to people contacts discussed. FM handed over a letter from the President to President of Sri Lanka and invited him to visit Pakistan at his earliest convenience,” Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Muhammad Faisal said in a tweet.

“FM calls on Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (Mahinda Rajapaksa). Very positive interaction. Deepening and further strengthening of bilateral relations discussed. Political will on both sides to take the relationship to the next level. A phenomenal day for Pakistan-Sri Lanka relations,” Faisal said in another tweet.

Earlier, Qureshi held a separate meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena and apprised him about the “dire situation” in Kashmir. The two leaders also discussed issues including trade, investment, tourism and people to people contacts and vowed to deepen and strengthen the entire gamut of bilateral relations.

“FM also briefed his Sri Lankan counterpart on the dire situation and human rights crisis” in Jammu and Kashmir, Faisal tweeted. Tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5. Reacting to India’s move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa also met Wu Jianghao, Special Representative of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China and Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

“I was pleased to meet with the Special Representative of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China and Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Mr Wu Jianghao and had cordial discussions on China-LKA relations,” the president said in a tweet.

Speaking to the media after the discussion, Qureshi termed his meeting with the Sri Lankan counterpart as “excellent” and extended an invitation to Gunawardena to visit Islamabad.

Prime Minister Khan has also invited President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to visit Islamabad at his “earliest convenience”. The President arrived in New Delhi on Thursday on a three-day visit to India, his first overseas trip after coming into power this month. He stormed to victory in Sri Lanka’s presidential elections, the results of which were out on November 17. Sri Lanka and Pakistan’s relationship is broad-based, covering diverse fields, including political, trade, commercial, defence and people-to-people contacts and cultural exchanges.

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