COLOMBO: Pakistan and Sri Lanka on Sunday agreed to expand their relationship from defence cooperation to an ‘overall comprehensive engagement’ involving trade, communications and culture, during President Asif Ali Zardari’s landmark trip to the country.
Four agreements relating to visa abolition of diplomatic and official passports, agricultural cooperation, and assistance in customs matters and agreement in the fields of arts and creative studies were signed between Sri Lanka and Pakistan this afternoon following the bilateral talks between the two presidents.
During the exclusive meeting, the presidents agreed on taking the existing level of Pakistan-Sri Lankan relationship to "new heights", encompassing a multi-sector engagement in addition to defence, which has been a major sector of collaboration between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the past.
Zardari said Pakistan was happy to note that the Sri Lankan government had been able to defeat terrorism, and stressed the need for joint cooperation to counter the menace.
He said Pakistan always supported the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka and assured that despite its own economic difficulties, Pakistan would continue to contribute towards the socio-economic development of Sri Lanka.
Zardari emphasised the need to reactivate the Joint Economic Commission (JEC) to facilitate bilateral economic cooperation and monitor its progress.
The meeting was followed by the delegation level talks after the two presidents witnessed the signing of three agreements and a Memorandum of Understanding on waiving off visas for officials and diplomats, cooperation on customs, agriculture development and cultural exchange.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Ch Ahmed Mukhtar and BOI Chairman Saleem Mandviwala signed the
agreements from the Pakistani side.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2010.
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