President Hamid Karzai congratulated President Mahinda Rajapaksa for restoration of peace and stability and said Afghanistan would like to replicate what Sri Lanka has achieved. “Peace in a country is the best guarantor of Human Rights. War, Instability, Conflict is the worst enemy of Human Rights. Therefore, we will support you in strengthening your peace that will strengthen the rights of the Sri Lankan people. We ask you to help us establish peace, so we can have the same in our country,” he said.
Speaking at the bilateral talks between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo today (March 6), President Karzai said, “since the establishment of peace in your country Sri Lanka has, luckily for the people of Sri Lanka, and also as an example for people around this region, and in particular for Afghanistan, made tremendous progress. Establishing once again the truthful fact for all of us, that peace is the vehicle for human growth and prosperity. We have seen that your country, and through your efforts and of your compatriots.”
President Rajapaksa, described the development that has taken place in the last five years and spending US dollars four billion for the development activities in the North alone and carrying out extensive rehabilitation and resettlement. However, he expressed regret that the West is not appreciative of the progress made by Sri Lanka.
President Karzai replied that it was the business of the West. “Pointing fingers is their business. We know them well. We have been dealing with them very closely now for 12 years. And, you must have heard me in the media as well so we know them well,” the Afghan President said.
President Karzai, who is on a state visit to Sri Lanka praised the development in infrastructure in the country. “Our delegation in 2008, when they travelled from the airport to this location, travelled in an hour and a half. This time they travelled in 15 to 20 minutes. This is the dividend of peace, for the people of Sri Lanka and also for visitors like us,” he said.
President Rajapaksa expressed the belief that regular engagements at the highest political level, including immensely contributes to further strengthening the bonds of friendship between our two countries. “Our two countries are bound by a common cultural heritage, strong friendship and mutual understanding on a range of issues. This relationship could be further strengthened by closer cooperation bilaterally and within regional and international fora.”
Afghan President said his government grants many scholarships to Afghan students to study abroad and requested Sri Lanka, which has reputed universities for medical, engineering and other disciplines to reserve some placements for them. He also asked the Sri Lankan opinion on restoration of destroyed Bhamian Buddha statutes and President Rajapaksa said he would seek the opinion of the experts and the Sangha and offer whatever the assistance required.
“I admire your dynamic leadership of Afghanistan at this critical juncture in the country’s history. I particularly commend Your Excellency’s efforts to establish a durable peace in your country,” President Rajapaksa said. “I am confident of the resilience of the Afghan people in meeting the on-going challenges and I wish for the peaceful conclusion of the coming Presidential Elections.”
Afghanistan and Sri Lanka agreed to expand cooperation in education, culture and archaeology, defence and several other areas. Four Memoranda of Understandings were signed on Training of Afghan Nurses in Sri Lanka, Cooperation in Education, Employment of Sri Lankan Skilled and Professional Manpower in Afghanistan and Cooperation in Sports.
President Karzai is scheduled to open an Afghan embassy in Colombo and Sri Lanka too would set up a mission in Kabul.