|FM Rohitha Bogollagama meets with Yang Jiechi, Foreign Minister of China|
|Saturday, 04 July 2009 14:48|
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka Rohitha Bogollagama, on 3rd morning had comprehensive bilateral talks with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi of China, which lasted for over 2 hours. The areas covered included bilateral & multilateral relations, trade, tourism and investment promotion and development assistance.
At the very outset, Minister Yang Jiechi extended a warm welcome to the visiting Foreign Minister and recounted fond memories of his visit to Sri Lanka in September 2008. He expressed sentiments that both countries being friendly neighbours, China was ready to enhance the mutually beneficial all round co-operative partnership between the two countries.
Sri Lanka Foreign Minister whilst thanking the Chinese Minister for the hospitality accorded to the delegation stated that this timely visit when China Celebrates the 60th Anniversary of her founding is viewed as a greater step in positioning our two countries for a wider agenda in the bilateral and multilateral spheres. He also expressed the warm sentiments of President Rajapaksa and the Government of Sri Lanka to President Hu Jintao and the Government of China, recalling affectionately the bilateral ties that have spanned over half a century, which had now set the platform to focus on more contemporary issues of interest for the two countries based on mutual respect and trust.
Focusing on bilateral political issues, both sides acknowledged that the three visits by HE the President to China since 2007 had resulted in a common understanding reached by the two leaders boosting the all round co-operative partnership. It was also noted that the decisions arrived at the highest level have been turned into concrete action by both governments.
Foreign Minister Yang congratulated Sri Lanka on the success achieved in defeating terrorism and reiterated China’s support towards maintaining her independence, territorial integrity & sovereignty. Simultaneously he acknowledged Sri Lanka’s unwavering commitment towards the “One China” policy and in the issues related to Taiwan and Tibet. China strictly adheres to the cardinal principle of non interference in internal affairs of sovereign states and stemming from this principle China has supported Sri Lanka in the issues pertaining to human rights in the multilateral fora. He welcomed Sri Lanka’s engagement for a dialogue with other member States. Commenting on the efforts by Sri Lanka Government to resettle and rehabilitate the IDPs, Foreign Minister Yang pledged China’s continued support towards this cause.
Minister Bogollagam, thanked the Chinese Foreign Minister, for his encouraging words noting that the relationship is based on the maxim “friend in need is a friend in deed”. Sri Lanka Foreign Minister particularly thanked the Chinese Government for the timely assistance towards the IDPs and explained in detail the process spearheaded by President Rajapaksa for the empowerment of the people. He noted that with regard to political empowerment the Constitution of Sri Lanka already had an inbuilt solution, provided for by implementing the 13th amendment in devolving power to the provincial councils. Due to the intransigent nature of the LTTE, this process could not be fully implemented in Sri Lanka. However with the new winds of freedom experienced in the country, as expressed by the leadership of the country, a home grown solution will be carved out in achieving national reconciliation. In explaining President Rajapaksa’s agenda to find a political solution to political problems, the Minister emphasized in detail the implementing process of the 13th amendment. To this end the Minister also explained that local government elections will be held in Jaffna & Vavuniya in August this year, ushering in an inclusive democratic process of governance.
In discussing economic relations and empowerment of her people, the Foreign Minister thanked the Chinese side for all the assistance extended towards the socio-economic development of Sri Lanka. Minister Yang noted that many of the projects that have commenced in Sri Lanka with Chinese assistance is progressing smoothly and assured China’s co-operation in arresting the negative trade balance faced by Sri Lanka by encouraging the import of marketable products of Sri Lanka and encouraging competitive investors of China to relocate in Sri Lanka.
Minister Bogollagama noted that Puttalam coal power project upon commissioning would generate power to the areas to be reconstructed. It was noted that as a priority area the government has already begun the clearance of landmines which would be a prerequisite for re-settlement and upon completion of this task Government’s 180 day plan would be implemented for expeditious resettlement of the internally displaces persons (IDPs). Minister Yang responded positively to Minister Bogollagama’s request for landmine clearing equipment and providing sanitary facilitation and water supple system in the IDP centers.
Chinese Minister identified new areas for co-operation with Sri Lanka in the agriculture, fisheries, animal husbandry and infrastructure development sectors. Minister Bogollagama was very keen to pursue active collaboration in these areas, particularly in providing livelihood opportunities for the IDPs and in carrying out President Rajapaksa’s Vision of economic empowerment of the regions in brining about stabilization and social integration with one identity void of ethnic divisions. Minister Bogollagama, stressed the importance of tourism industry having tremendous potential in Sri Lanka and spelt out the need to construct the second international airport in the South of Sri Lanka in Mattala, providing better connectivity for tourists to commute internally. The Chinese side noted the importance of this project and requested a list of priority projects that Sri Lanka could identify for funding. The Colombo – Katunayake Expressway Project and Hambantota Bunkering projects were also noted as amplifying the economic importance of the country which would soon commence work.
The two Ministers discussed intensifying co-operation in the multilateral fora with a particular reference to the UN reforms and with respect to Sri Lanka’s entry as a dialogue partner in the Shanghai Co-operation Organization, Sri Lanka Minister thanked China for the support extended and indicated the interests of Sri Lanka to share a common platform with China in the Asia Regional Forum(ARF) and the Asia Co-operation Dialogue (ACD) and appreciated China’s presence in SAARC as an observer. He also invited the Chinese Foreign Minister to participate in the Ministerial session of the ACD that would be hosted by Sri Lanka in October. The two Ministers also pledged to intensify cultural co-operation in enhancing people to people interactions.
The meeting concluded on a very positive note in further strengthening and consolidating Sri Lanka – China relations and the Chinese Foreign Minister extended an invitation for HE the President to visit the Shanghai EXPO 2010 which would be another epoch making event in the achievements of China. Minister Bogollagama extended an invitation on behalf of the President of Sri Lanka to the China Communist Party to attend the SLFP Convention in Sri Lanka this year. The Visiting Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka complemented the Chinese people in their road to success and expressed the sincere desire of the people of Sri Lanka to actively engage in this comprehensive partnership. Foreign Minister invited China to become a Development Partner of Sri Lanka. Following the bilateral talks, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi hosted a welcome banquet to Minister Bogollagama and the Sri Lanka delegation.
Sri Lanka Embassy
04th July, 2009