Wednesday, 12 November 2008 11:49
President Mahinda Rajapaksa paid a brief official visit to the Maldives on 10-11 November, 2008 to attend the inaugural ceremony of the new Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed. He was accompanied by Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and other officials of the Presidential Secretariat and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
At the swearing-in ceremony President Mohamed Nasheed, in his Address to the Nation extended a warm welcome to the President of Sri Lanka and thanked him for making a special effort to attend the ceremony.
Soon after the ceremony, the Sri Lankan President was the first foreign dignitary to pay a courtesy call on the new President accompanied by Foreign Minister Bogollagama, the Acting High Commissioner, Mr. H.M.T. Wijewickrama and the delegation.
Both sides agreed to continue to work together and to strengthen and deepen the multi-faceted links which exist between the two countries. It was noted that there are over 10,000 Sri Lankans in the Maldives and the Maldivian President welcomed their presence. He stated that the private sector investments, especially in the tourism sector is encouraged. In this context, the possibility of working together to promote joint destination packages which should benefit both countries was discussed.
Reference was made to the library building in the Maldives which was donated by Sri Lanka when the Foreign Minister visited the Maldives in November 2007. President Nasheed is keen to further expand the collection of books in the Library. In the field of Information Technology the Sri Lanka President spoke of the proposal to set up Tele Centres (Nanasala).
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama referred to the activities of SAARC and stated that Sri Lanka as SAARC Chair looks forward to the support and cooperation of the Maldives to promote the collective efforts of SAARC member states for the benefit and prosperity of the South Asian Region. It was observed that Maldives would be hosting the SAARC Summit in 2009.
President Nasheed spoke of the close people-to-people contacts which have been established due to many Maldivians who have studied in Sri Lanka, and, those who still continue to have their education in Sri Lanka which has resulted in a close affinity between the two countries.
President Nasheed accepted the invitation extended by President Rajapaksa to pay a visit to Sri Lanka which would take place before the end of this year
The President and the Foreign Minister also called on the former President Gayoom. President Rajapaksa conveyed his best wishes to the former President and said that he would be remembered as a statesman who made a significant contribution to the Maldives and to the South Asian region.
Sri Lanka High Commission
11th November 2008