President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived in Belarus yesterday on a three-day official visit to the East European nation.
The President was received at the Minsk National Airport by Mr. Vladimir Makei, the Belarus Minister of Foreign Affairs. President Rajapaksa's visit to Belarus is the first by a Sri Lankan head of state to the former Soviet Republic, which became independent in 1991.
A landlocked country of approximately 207,000 square kilometers, Belarus shares borders with Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine. The majority of the nearly 10 million population lives in urban areas while the capital city of Minsk is home to about a fifth of the nationís population.
In Belarus, President Rajapaksa will hold bilateral talks with his counterpart, the President of Belarus Mr. Alexander Lukashenko, and Prime Minister Prof. Mikhail Myasnikovich. Other bilateral meetings will take place with the Chairman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus Mr. Anatoly Rubinov and the Chairman of the House of Representatives of the Belarus National Assembly Mr. Vladimir Andreichenko.
The Belarus-Sri Lanka business forum will take place to coincide with the visit of President Rajapaksa who will be traveling with a Sri Lankan business delegation. The forum, scheduled to take place Aug. 26 at the National Library of Belarus in Minsk, will provide an opportunity for business men and women from both countries to interact and network. A variety of sectors including tourism, banking, agriculture and textiles, among others, will be represented at the forum.
The Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris and Secretary to the President Mr. Lalith Weeratunga are accompanying President Rajapaksa on the visit.