|Sri Lanka firmly behind Palestinian people – Foreign Minister|
|Wednesday, 14 January 2009|
Sri Lanka is firmly behind the Palestinian people, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani at the Emiri Diwan (Royal Palace) in Doha on Sunday.
Minister Bogollagama briefed the Emir of Qatar on current developments in Sri Lanka stating that the LTTE was on rapid retreat militarily and no longer enjoyed the goodwill of the Tamil people who he said had been alienated from the national democratic and development agenda for an extended period of time by the LTTE.
He underlined that the current military campaign of the Sri Lankan security forces had a zero tolerance policy on civilian casualty.
Referring to developments in the Eastern Province, the Minister said that following the defeat of the LTTE in the Province, democracy had taken strong root and the rule of law was very much in evidence there.
Minister Bogollagama said that, as a result of the restoration of democracy in the Eastern Province, a former child soldier, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, is the Chief Minister of the Province, while the one time Number Two in the LTTE, Karuna Amman, is a Member of Parliament.
Despite having to deal with terrorism, the Foreign Minister said that Sri Lanka had consistently posted a six per cent growth rate during the last five years thus demonstrating the remarkable resilience of the country’s economy.
Responding to an inquiry from the Emir, Minister Bogollagama said that there were plenty of opportunities for Qatar to invest in Sri Lanka’s infrastructure development plan with particular reference to the improvement of the road network and the urban slum clearance program.
His Highness the Emir requested for project proposals in this regard for consideration by the Qatar Investment Fund.
Referring to opportunities available for the Qatari private sector, Minister Bogollagama said that much scope existed in the areas of trade, investment, tourism and petroleum exploration. As regards trade, he stated that Qatari businessmen could base their operations in Sri Lanka and avail themselves of Sri Lanka’s Free Trade Agreements with India and Pakistan and also the GSP+ concessions granted to the country by the European Union.
The Foreign Minister restated the concerns of the Government of Sri Lanka in regard to the ongoing crisis in Gaza and said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had expressed the sympathies and support of the Government and the people of Sri Lanka to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and called all parties to the conflict to observe a cease-fire which would reduce the prevailing tension and lead to a conducive environment for negotiations. Sri Lanka, the Minister said, was firmly behind the Palestinian people in their hour of need.
The Foreign Minister agreed to support Qatar’s application for Observer status in the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Corporation and in turn was assured of Qatar’s support for Sri Lanka’s membership in the Organisation of Islamic Countries.
The current bilateral visit of Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama to the State of Qatar is the first by a Sri Lankan Foreign Minister since 1997.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 14 August 2009 )|
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