Sri Lanka and Pakistan have agreed to sign four agreements in an effort to deepen bilateral relations during the four-day visit of President Asif Ali Zardari.
Zardari reached Colombo on Saturday and was welcomed by Rajapaksa at the aiport. The Pakistani President is leading a 40-member trade delegates besides his colleagues, foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and defence minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar.
Rajapaksa met Zardari on Sunday afternoon in a meeting which diplomats said was ``warm and cordial.’’ The Lankan President hosted a dinner for his counterpart later in the evening. Earlier, Zardari met Prime Minister DM Jayaratne. The government media quoted Zardari as having said that the talks will lead to strengthen political, cultural and trade ties between the two nations.
``Pakistan is ready to make maximum use of the investment opportunities available in Sri Lanka. He proposes that the developing countries in Asia should resort to barter system instead of trading with US dollars. He expressed confidence that the free trade agreement signed between the two countries will strengthen their economies,’’ the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation said.
The agreements inked between the two nations would enable them to work closely on prevention of illicit trafficking in narcotics and improve cultural exchanges, an external affairs ministry official told Press Trust of India, adding the agreements would help the countries to be able to prevent trafficking of sensitive goods, weapons and narcotics.
Zardari is expected to interact with members of the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Association and address a Business Forum comprising businessmen and corporate leaders during his state visit. On Monday, Zardar is slated to chair the Pakistan-Sri Lanka business forum.
The two countries are expected to firm up cooperation in the defence sector. During Sri Lanka’s civil war, Pakistan was the main supplier of military hardware to Colombo, second only to China. Personnel from the Lankan armed forces often get trained in Pakistan.