Strengthening economic relations with Africa will further strengthen the already friendly relations, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said in Kenya this morning.
Since 2005, the President said, “The foreign policy of Sri Lanka took a new direction, and we have been able to rediscover our old friendships and affinities, particularly in the African region.”
President Rajapaksa made these comments during bilateral discussions with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta that took place at the State House in Nairobi yesterday (14).
Noting how honored Kenya is to welcome President Rajapaksa to the country – the first visit to Kenya by a Sri Lankan head of state – President Kenyatta said it is “a true testament of the enduring friendship between our two countries.”
President Rajapaksa began the discussions by conveying his deepest sympathies on the terrorist attack at the Westgate Shopping Mall in September of this year and the fire at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport recently.
“Acts of terrorism in any form cannot be condoned with, and we as victims must seek to bring the global community together in eliminating this menace,” President Rajapaksa said.
Both leaders emphasized the significance of enhancing south-south cooperation.
“I am happy that in recent years, Sri Lanka’s economic partnerships with African countries have developed beyond trade and investment,” President Rajapaksa said.
“South-south cooperation remains buoyant,” President Kenyatta said. “With this solidarity, voices are heard and interests protected.”
President Rajapaksa briefed President Kenyatta on the successful conclusion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2013 that took place in November. President Kenyatta commended Sri Lanka’s decision to focus on equity and inclusivity in sustainable development.
President Rajapaksa also apprised the Kenyan President of Sri Lanka’s post-war developments, including the implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.
The two delegations also discussed at length the economic and investment opportunities available for both Sri Lankans in Kenya and for Kenyans in Sri Lanka. President Kenyatta requested President Rajapaksa to assist Kenya to further develop the country’s coconut industry by sharing knowledge and best practices from Sri Lanka through exchange programs.
Another area in which the two countries could work together is the tea industry since both are tea-producing nations. It was suggested that instead of a competitive relationship that the two countries should work towards a synergistic one where both countries can work together and approach larger tea markets together.
President Rajapaksa extended an invitation to President Kenyatta to visit Sri Lanka, which the Kenyan President accepted.
Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of Civil Aviation Mr. Geethanjana Gunawardena, Chief Minister of the Uva Province Mr. Shasheendra Rajapaksa, Monitoring MP of the Ministry of External Affairs Mr. Sajin De Vass Gunawardena and Secretary to the President Mr. Lalith Weeratunga joined the President for the bilateral discussion.