President Mahinda Rajapaksa held bilateral discussions with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif yesterday (Nov. 26) evening on the sidelines of the 18th SAARC Summit, taking place in Kathmandu, Nepal.
During the meeting between Sri Lanka and India, Prime Minister Modi expressed his gratitude to President Rajapaksa for granting a pardon and sending back to India the five Indian fishermen, adding that the Presidentís gesture was appreciated throughout India.
President Rajapaksa requested Prime Minister Modi to consider releasing Sri Lankan fishermen in Indian prisons, some in the state of Andhra and some in Tamil Nadu.
Both leaders felt that the two countries share very strong and multifaceted bilateral relations and agreed to continue working toward a joint economic commission between the two nations. Prime Minister Modi reiterated to President Rajapaksa his desire to have SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) play a more centralised role and reiterated Indiaís commitment to increasing the volumes of trade within the SAARC region.
The meeting between Sri Lanka and Pakistan focused considerably on further developing economic relations. Prime Minister Sharif expressed particular interest in exploring joint ventures in the sugar industry as well as the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) sector.
President Rajapaksa expressed appreciation for the support that Pakistan extended to Sri Lanka throughout the war. Prime Minister Sharif told President Rajapaksa that it was their duty to support Sri Lanka since it was a fight against terrorism. Terrorism is a common challenge for the whole region, the Prime Minister said, with a need for solidarity and concerted action to fight it.
Prime Minister Sharif also invited President Rajapaksa to make a state visit to Pakistan at the earliest possible date.
Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, Monitoring MP of the Ministry of External Affairs Mr. Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs Mrs. Kshenuka Senewiratne and Sri Lankaís Ambassador in Nepal Mr. W.M. Senevirathna were also present.