Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar led the Sri Lankan delegation to the 60th session of Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific held in Shanghai to commemorate the founding of ESCAP then known as ESCAFE, in that city in 1947.
During his brief stay in Shanghai, Minister Kadirgamar called on Vice President Zeng Qing Hong.
The Chinese government reiterated its continued support for Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and the resolution of the ethnic problem through a negotiated political settlement.
Minister Kadirgamar emphasized Sri Lanka’s sustained commitment to the One China Policy and its practice of prior consultations with the Chinese government regarding commercial dealings with Taiwan, as well as Sri Lanka’s support for China on questions affecting its interests in the international arena.
The Sri Lankan FM underlined the intention of the new government to pursue negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Programme with China, including civil aviation and tourism, and it was agreed that steps would be taken to bring the negotiations to an early conclusion.
It was noted that since the signing of the Accredited Destination Status (ADS) Agreement in November 2002, Chinese tourist traffic to Sri Lanka had increased by 70% compared to the previous year. With the commencement of direct flights by SriLankan Airlines to China in October last year a further increase would be certain. China pledged support towards promoting Chinese tourism to Sri Lanka.
Mr. Kadirgamar conveyed President Kumaratunga’s appreciation of the considerable financial assistance being given by China for the construction of the National Arts Centre in Colombo.
Sri Lanka and China agreed to strengthen their relationship through economic projects. The two countries will engage in close and continuous discussions to realize these objectives. A team from the Chinese Foreign Ministry headed by a Vice Minister will visit Colombo shortly in terms of the Agreement on Bilateral Consultations.
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