Sri Lanka has expressed readiness to support the implementation of the Lumbini Master Plan, which would ensure the conservation of the historic site and enhance the facilities for pilgrims, the Foreign Ministry said today.
President Maithripala Sirisena concluded a two- day bilateral visit to Nepal on Sunday (02 September 2018), announcing after attending the 4th BIMSTEC Summit held on 30-31 August 2018.
The President made this announcement on supporting the Lumbini Master Plan during bilateral talks with Nepali President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, which was followed by an official banquet in honour of President Sirisena at Shital Nivas on Saturday, 01 September.
Earlier in the day, the President and the delegation visited the sacred site in Lumbini, which is the birthplace of Prince Siddhartha Gautama. Over 50,000 Sri Lankans pay homage in Lumbini annually.
At their meeting, the two leaders reviewed with satisfaction the bilateral exchanges that have taken place over the past few years.
The Nepali President expressed appreciation to Sri Lanka for being a true friend and assisting in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake that devastated the country, particularly in the reconstruction efforts at the Anand Kutir Temple and the Rato Machindranath Temple in Kathmandu.
The leaders also discussed the possibility of marketing a ‘Buddhist Circuit’ as an initiative to boost tourism between the countries, and from outside the region.
President Sirisena congratulated the Government of Nepal on the successful conclusion of the 4th BIMSTEC Summit and as the BIMSTEC’s new Chair, sought the cooperation of Nepal in operationalising the ambitious Kathmandu Declaration.
During his meeting with the Prime Minister of Nepal K.P. Sharma Oli, the President emphasized the importance of strengthening economic relations between the two countries, and the Nepali Prime Minister said that the Sri Lanka-Nepal Joint Commission will be held early to carry forward the ideas discussed.
On Friday, 31 August, President Sirisena also inaugurated a ‘Trade, Tourism and Investment Dialogue’ organised by the Institute for Strategic and Socio-Economic Research of Nepal. Addressing the gathering, State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake requested that Sri Lankan companies in construction, education, IT, healthcare, apparel and hospitality be facilitated to invest in Nepal.
During the visit, two Memoranda of Understanding were exchanged between the two governments, the first between the Institute of Foreign Affairs of Nepal and the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute of Sri Lanka, and the second on Cooperation for Youth Development.
President Maithripala Sirisena also visited the Secretariat of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) headquartered in Kathmandu. He was received by the Secretary General of SAARC Amjad Hussain B. Sial and the Directors of SAARC. To mark his first visit to the SAARC Secretariat, the President planted a tree sapling in the premises. Addressing the officials at the SAARC Secretariat, President Sirisena said that Sri Lanka strongly supports the SAARC process as one of its founding members, and that his visit was intended to encourage the Secretary General and staff of the Secretariat for the important work they were doing.
He also visited the Anand Kutir Vihara and received a briefing on the progress of re-construction of the Vihara and also of the Rato Machindranath Temple. The President and his delegation also visited the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu and received blessings. (Colombo Gazette)