Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, speaking to the media after meeting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Colombo today, said the visit is significant as it is the first high level visit and the first visit by a Foreign Minister of China, following the formation of the National Unity Government last year.
“We have just concluded a very productive discussion regarding the consensus reached by the leadership of our two countries during the recent high level bilateral visits and also on issues of mutual interest. I extended Sri Lanka’s appreciation for the assistance given by China for several infrastructure and other mega projects in Sri Lanka. This is consistent with the Strategic Cooperation Partnership between our two countries,” Samaraweera said.
He said that Sri Lanka deeply values the long standing friendship and cooperation with China, dating back from ancient times.
“Discussions were also held regarding the Belt and Road initiative put forward by China. Sri Lanka reiterated its participation in this initiative, as it is in line with the Government’s initiatives to make Sri Lanka the hub of the Indian Ocean trade, a position it occupied in the ancient past. We discussed the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road for greater economic cooperation, which is viewed as a road of friendship, economic cooperation, socio and cultural exchange and connectivity,” the Foreign Minister added.
He said that Sri Lanka also welcomes the active support from Chinese enterprises towards the development of Sri Lanka’s economy.
While recognizing the need to maintain peace and security in the region, Sri Lanka also agreed on the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea.
“In this regard, Sri Lanka calls for the settlement of disputes and differences through constructive dialogue, consultation and cooperation by the parties concerned in accordance with international laws and practices. Sri Lanka also appreciates China’s efforts and readiness to promote such dialogue in order to maintain peace and security in the region while upholding the rule of law in inter-state affairs,” he said.
Next year, in 2017, the two countries will be celebrating 60 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations and 65 years since the signing of the Rubber-Rice Pact. (Colombo Gazette)