Sri Lanka and Iran seek to expand ties

Sri Lankan Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiyutheen who is in Iran on Monday met with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi.

According to IRNA, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Media Head Office reported Salehi as referring in the meeting to the political will of both countries’ presidents for broadening and strengthening bilateral ties and cooperation more than ever before.

Salehi added, ‘The Islamic Republic of Iran is fully ready for supporting and evermore expansion of comprehensive cooperation with Sri Lanka, particularly in political, economic, commercial, transit, and joint investments fields.’

The Sri Lankan Industry and Commerce Minister Bathiyutheen in the meeting appreciated the Iranian officials for their assistance in the process of his country’s development.

He added, ‘We hope to increase the level of commercial and economic cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran, particularly in energy field.
Iran has helped fund a number of development projects in Sri Lanka.

In 2010 they agreed to post USD 450-500 million for the Uma Oya Multipurpose Development Project, a 90-100 megawatt hydroelectric power plant around the country’s Central Province. Iran has also invested in Sri Lankan Oil refineries and its investments have helped to double Sri Lankan Oil production capacity. Iran has also invested in rural electrification. These projects have made Iran Sri Lanka’s largest aid donor.

During the Sri Lankan Civil War the Government of Sri Lanka approached Iran for loans at low interest to afford Sri Lanka purchases of electronic surveillance aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles and Iran agreed to issue the loan.

For Iran’s assistance in the Sri Lankan Civil War, Sri Lankan minister Wimal Weerawansa said later on, ‘Iran has never let us down, even when many other countries in the world refused to back us. The county as a whole is very grateful for this brotherly treatment’.