Sri Lanka President to arrive in Kazakastan today on a state visit
Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his delegation is expected to be in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan today, on a two-day state visit.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa will be the first Sri Lankan President to visit Kazakhastan , which earlier during the Soviet era, a major union republic and had among other things a large part of Soviet nuclear arsenal.
The country has recently experienced good economic development and the living standard of Kazhaks has improved dramatically.
The latest oil find in the Caspian Sea area augurs well for the rapid development of Kazakastan economy in the very immediate future.
Kazakastan today is one of the most powerful and economically well developed country next to Russia.
The present Kazak President Nursultan Nazarbayev rule the country since before independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and continues to be the President up-to-date.
Sri Lanka President will be accompanied by External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Pieris, President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratuna, Parliamentarian Sajin Vas Gunawardene, Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa, Uva Province Chief Minister Sashindra Rajapaksa and also a group of 40 Sri Lankan business leaders and travel operators. It is learnt that travel and business leaders will be flying to Astana separately.
During the state visit, Sri Lanka's intention to join the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) will be announced by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Kazakhastan and would seek country’s support and also Sri Lanka intends to lobby other member countries for their support for full membership.
Also Sri Lanka and Kazakastan will be celebrating the establishment of 20 years of diplomatic relations and there will be a Sri Lankan cultural show to mark the diplomatic relationship between the two countries.
At the conclusion of the bilateral discussions, Sri Lanka is expected to enter into an Agreement with the Republic of Kazakhstan on Cooperation in the field of Tourism. The proposal was made by Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development to sign and ratify this agreement on Co- operation in the field of tourism between the two countries, and was recently approved by the cabinet.
Sri Lankan business leaders representing the Chamber of Commerce is also expected to seek bilateral cooperation with Kazakastan Chamber of Commerce.
Already Charter flights from Almaty, Kazaakastan has begun operation and Kazhaks have started visiting Sri Lanka. Luk Air is operating these charter flights. Presently they are operating back to back charter and it is expected during President Rajapksa’s state visit, two countries intend to enter into an Air Service Agreement and subsequently Luk Air is expected to operate a regular air service to Colombo.
When asked U. Weeratunga, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Russia who is also accredited to Kazakastan, he said one year ago only SriLankan Airlines started regular flights to Moscow and next in line is to have regular flights to Kiev. He said after Kiev flight arrangements completed only they can think of having a regular SriLankan flight service to Almaty and until such time, Kazak’s Luk Air is expected to have the regular flight service from Almaty and to and out of Colombo.
- Asian Tribune -