Sri Lanka is keen to assist the new government of Nepal by  sharing its expertise in the fields of health, education and investment promotion stated Rohitha Bogollagama, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka when he met Nepal’s recently appointed Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav today (29th) in New York.  Minister Bogollagama on inquiry elaborated the workings of Sri Lanka’s Board of Investment which he pointed out to be an autonomous body and a one-stop shop for facilitating investments to Sri Lanka.  In this regard, he invited the Nepalese Government to study the legal provisions on which  the BOI had been established.  

    They referred to recent negotiations aimed at concluding a bilateral Air Services Agreement and expressed the hope that it would reach finality early with a view to strengthening connectivity between the two capitals.  Connectivity was recognized as a core area of focus even in the context of SAARC.  

    The two Ministers exchanged views on terrorism re-surfacing in the region posing to be a major challenge.  They reiterated the need for close cooperation in this area both bilaterally and regionally.  Minister Bogollagama extended an invitation to his counterpart to visit Sri Lanka at the earliest opportunity.  

Minister Bogollagama sought his counterparts assistance in securing land for the construction of a Sri Lankan monastery and a pilgrim’s rest in Lumbini.  The Minister said that Sri  Lanka could consider providing training for Nepalese in Hotel Management and Archaeology.  
    
    Later in the afternoon Foreign Minister Bogollagama met with U Nyan Win, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar.  They discussed food security as an area of major concern globally and in this context exchanged views on the manner in which Myanmar could share its knowledge on technological transfer related to cultivation methods.  Further they exchanged views on the provision of subsidized fertilizer for agriculture and noted that Myanmar was a major producer of low cost fertilizer.  

    The need to expand cooperation in trade was recognized during the discussion and it was noted that Sri Lanka is a major import of timber.  It was proposed to explore ways and means to collaborate in the mineral and gem and jewellery sectors.   The two Ministers agreed to convene the Joint Commission in February 2009 in Sri Lanka.  

    The Minister conveyed Sri Lanka’s gratitude to the Myanmar Government for its readily providing 100,000 MTs of rice mid this year to assist in the short fall of its requirement.  Considering the historical ties between Sri Lanka and Myanmar it was agreed  to exchange high level visits.   

    Subsequently Minister Bogollagama went on to meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bhutan Lyonpo Ugyen.  He pointed out the need for a more structured engagement with Bhutan.  In this context the Bhutanese Foreign Minister requested for officials to be sent to draft a schedule of sectoral cooperation in areas including motor mechanics, hospitality & hotel management training , human resources development etc.  They discussed recent development in Bhutan in particular its transition to democratic governance.  

    In the context of regional cooperation, the establishment of the Secretariat of the SAARC Development Fund in Thimpu was discussed.   The initial steps taken in this regard by Bhutan were acknowledged by Minister Bogollagama.  They also exchanged views on the role of SAARC Observers and the need for external cooperation to be governed by the adopted guidelines.  


Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York
29th September, 2008
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