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    ADB bonanza for Sri Lanka during President’s visit

    January 18, 2019

    In continuation of the policy of friendship with all, President Maithripala Sirisena currently on a State visit to the Philippines with the intention of strengthening cooperation with the South East Asian neighbour, who is an important member of the ASEAN.

    Marking the first visit to Manila by a Sri Lankan Head of State, President Sirisena held highly successful bilateral talks with the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte at the Malacañang Palace in Manila. After the meeting, both countries inked five agreements on areas of military, tourism and agriculture and the Presidents witnessed the exchange of agreements held in Malacañang.

    Yesterday President Sirisena held talks with Takehiko Nakao, President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the two sides signed three agreements that would provide a total sum of US Dollars 445 million ADB assistance to Sri Lanka. They include, US Dollars 300 million under the South Asian Sub-region Economic Cooperation (SASEC) assistance for the Port Access Elevated Highway Project (PAEHP).

    Furthermore, ADB agreed to provide US$ 145 million for Science and Technology Human Resource Development Program in Sri Lanka. The Bank also agreed to provide an additional US$ 10 million for Urban project Preparatory Facility Technical Assistance.

    In addition o the above assistance, ADB President Takehiko Nakao agreed to consider President Sirisena’s request for assistance for curbing drug smuggling into Sri Lanka. He said that the ADB could provide technical assistance to customs department for strengthening illegal drugs detection. The ADB President also hosted a luncheon in honour of President Sirisena. With the current agreements, the total assistance from ADB to Sri Lanka this year will increase to US$ 815 million.

    Enhance bilateral cooperation

    Several MoUs were signed with Philippines to enhance bilateral cooperation during the visit of the President. It is interesting to note that the agreements include a Memoranda of Understanding between the Department of National Defence of the Philippines and the Defence Ministry of Sri Lanka concerning defence and military education and training and exchanges of defence and military delegations.

    The Cabinet last Monday approved the MoUs to enhance cooperation in the tourism, foreign employment, agriculture, and defence sectors. Under the MoU, Sri Lanka and the Philippines agreed to receive defense and military students from the two countries to study at several military academies, schools, and training centres in respective countries.

    One of the most important outcomes of the visit is the agreement to set up a Joint Economic Committee to give directions for furthering economic cooperation between Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Two leaders held lengthy discussions on economic and trade ties. The MoUs were signed with the objective of strengthening ties between the two countries in tourism, security, agriculture, and educational sectors.

    Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Sri Lanka were established in January 1961 with the Philippines opening a diplomatic mission office in Colombo. The diplomatic missions of both countries in Manila and Colombo were elevated to embassies in 1964 and 1966 respectively. However both countries decided to close their embassies on June 30, 1993. In September 1998, Sri Lanka reopened its diplomatic mission in Manila, driven by an interest to coordinate with the Asian Development Bank, which is based in Manila. During the current visit, President Duterte said he would take early steps to reopen the Philippines Embassy in Colombo.

    Among the agreements signed were an MoU between the Department of Tourism of the Philippines and the Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs Ministry of Sri Lanka and an MoU between the University of the Philippines-Los Baños and the Sri Lanka Council for Agriculture Research Policy of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs, Livestock, Irrigation, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development (MAREALIFARD).

    Prior to President’s visit, the required Cabinet papers on MoUs were approved. Tourism, Wildlife, and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga had submitted a Cabinet proposal for an MoU with the Philippines to promote cooperation tourism research, educational training and investment. Telecommunications, Foreign Employment and Sports Minister Harin Fernando has submitted a proposal to promote employees welfare and rights, productivity, service and safety standards. A proposal submitted by City Planning, Water Supply and Higher Education Minister Rauff Hakeem to enhance cooperation in the higher education sectors between the two nations was also approved by the Cabinet. Agriculture, Livestock Rural Economic Affairs, Irrigation and Aquatic Resources Minister P. Harrison had submitted a proposal for two MoUs to promote cooperation in fisheries, livestock agro-research. President Sirisena had submitted the Cabinet proposal for an MoU to have closer cooperation in defence, training, and joint exercises with the Philippines.

    The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said that he desires to establish a broad and comprehensive relationship with Sri Lanka in future. Pointing out that President Sirisena's State visit to the Philippine marked a historic moment in the relationship between the two countries, President Duterte added that he is totally committed to strengthening the trusted friendship between the two countries.

    Common visions

    The President of the Philippines said this to the media after holding high level bilateral discussions with President Sirisena who is on a four day State visit to the Philippines.

    The Philippines President Duterte, welcoming President Sirisena referred to the common visions of the two countries as developing countries in Asia. He added that in challenges such as eradicating drugs the Philippines are ready to develop a close tie with Sri Lanka and that must be linked between two countries at the international level.

    President Duterte said that during the official meeting with President Sirisena discussions were held which would result in the betterment of both countries. He further said that, the MoU’s signed, will benefit both the countries in the long run.

    President Sirisena said that his motive is to strengthen the ties between Sri Lanka and Philippines so that it would lead the countries towards a better destination. His official visit has resulted in long term friendship between Sri Lanka and Philippines and through this friendship, the required paths would open up to take the two countries towards prosperity.

    The President invited the President of Philippines to visit Sri Lanka for an official visit and expressed confidence that it will provide a great opportunity to review the progress of the meetings held with during this visit to Philippines.

    Last modified on Friday, 18 January 2019 14:35

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