Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to expand the bilateral relations between the two countries and hold regular consultations between the respective foreign ministries.
The MoU was signed during the visit of External Affairs Minister, Prof. G. L. Peiris to Kazakhstan on May 24th and 25th at the invitation of Kazakhstan Foreign Affairs Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov.
During the bilateral discussions held in Astana on May 24th Minister Peiris and his Kazakhstani counterpart signed the MoU to hold regular consultations between the Ministries of External Affairs of Sri Lanka and Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan.
Minister Peiris, observing this initiative as marking a new chapter in the relations between the two countries, has referred to the imperative need to establish the required legal basis as a foundation for furthering economic cooperation, the Sri Lankan Embassy in Moscow said in a statement.
The two Ministers have agreed that the MoU would "inculcate confidence among the business people in order to facilitate trade and investment."
They have agreed to pursue the finalization of agreements on trade, economic and technical cooperation, investment promotion and protection, visa facilitation and air services. The two ministers also have highlighted the need to formalize business contacts through the Chambers of Commerce in the two countries.
Prof. Peiris has said that his visit to that country grew out of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's vision to restructure Sri Lanka's foreign relations, by enhancing ties with regions of the world acquiring importance to become centers of growth.
During their meeting, the two ministers emphasized the need for furthering the contacts, made by the Sri Lankan President during his meeting with his Kazakhstani counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev at the sidelines of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum last year, through visits to the respective capitals at the highest political level.
Upon being apprised on the progress of Sri Lanka's post-war reconciliation process, which includes economic and social development, trilingual policy, modernizing the administrative sector and also establishing a Parliamentary Select Committee for constitutional reforms, Minister Kazykhanov has said that Kazakhstan fully supports Sri Lanka's reconciliation process, and has observed the steady growth and stability in the country's political and economic spheres.
The Kazakhstan Minister has agreed with Prof. Peiris that the membership of the Human Rights Council (HRC) should be more representative and responsive of the many ideologies globally represented, the embassy said in its statement.
In this regard Minister Kazykhanov has elaborated that countries must have their own vision for the agenda of the HRC which should be balanced without allowing for finger pointing. He has further stated that the mechanisms of the UNHRC should be designed with greater transparency.
The Sri Lankan Minister has also enlightened his Kazakhstani counterpart on the investment opportunities in Sri Lanka's tourism sector both in terms of related infrastructure and the enhancement of tourist arrivals from Kazakhstan. Observing that areas of economic cooperation between the two countries being unlimited the two ministers have agreed that the tourism sector could be worked upon through charter flights.
Minister Kazykhanov while explaining that Kazakhstan has commenced restructuring its economy from resource based to industrial, has confirmed the ability to seek cooperation from their sectors of energy, oil and gas exploration, construction and agro based industry. Minister Peiris has outlined spices, gems and jewellery and ceramic products as areas for furthering trade.
Prof. Peiris has also offered to share Sri Lanka's immense experience in disaster management with the Foreign Minister Kazykhanov as the disaster prone Central Asian region presents an excellent opportunity for expanding cooperation.
Minister Peiris in concluding remarks has said that it is a mutually rewarding and reinforcing relationship between two very similar countries and invited Minister Kazykhanov to undertake a visit to Sri Lanka at the earliest and experience at firsthand the adjustment of the country from an era of turbulence to stability.