Calling for a multifaceted collaborative engagement with Islamic and Arab countries in the Middle East, Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris stressed yesterday (6 Jan), the importance of the Middle East countries and Sri Lanka striving together in the new era of peace in the country, in all sectors of bilateral and regional cooperation.
Prof. Peiris met the Ambassadors of Islamic and Arab countries based in Colombo yesterday, as part of the Ministry’s overall strategy to translate the existing excellent bilateral ties between these countries and Sri Lanka into enhanced economic cooperation.
In this regard the External Affairs Minister stressed that Sri Lanka’s time-tested solidarity with Islamic and Arab countries, which received a further impetus from the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Palestinian cause since the 1970’s, has grown steadily over the decades, bringing the people of the Middle East and the people of Sri Lanka closer to each other, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a release.
The Minister highlighted the need for more intensive interactions between the representatives of these countries and the high officials of Sri Lanka. Projecting Sri Lanka as a society which has the flexibility of catering to the requirements of other countries in terms of trade, investment and tourism, the Minister stressed that this was possible because the cultures and religions of these countries are also represented in Sri Lanka. This, he stressed, included the business cultures of Sri Lanka and the Middle East as well.
The representatives of the Islamic and Arab countries in the Middle East, who attended the meeting, welcomed the Minister’s initiative of an interactive dialogue. Responding to his specific call for greater bilateral engagement in all sectors, they expressed confidence that, with the continued friendship and goodwill of their countries towards Sri Lanka, there was increased scope for mutually beneficial collaborative programmes in the New Year.
Deputy Minister Neomal Perera and Monitoring Member of Parliament Sajin Vass Gunawardene were present at the meeting. Ambassadors of UAE, Palestine, Iran, Egypt, Kuwait, Iraq and Charge D’Affairs of Qatar and Saudi Arabia were present.