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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2677

Sri Lanka and Myanmar reiterate the closeness of their ties

Colombo, 18 March, ( Sri Lanka and Myanmar are bound by ancient and historical links, reinforced by the common Buddhist heritage that unites the peoples of the two countries. This sentiment was articulated by the visiting Foreign Minister of Myanmar, U Nyan Win, who called on his Sri Lankan counterpart, Rohitha Bogollagama at the Foreign Ministry yesterday (16 March 2009). The Myanmar Foreign Minister is in Sri Lanka, leading his country delegation to the three-day ECOSOC Regional Ministerial Meeting on Financing Strategies for Healthcare, currently taking place in Colombo and Kandy.

Minister Bogollagama, welcoming his Myanmar guest as a friend of Sri Lanka and his personal friend, briefed Minister Win on current developments in Sri Lanka, including the impending defeat of terrorism and the dawn of an era of sustainable peace and prosperity in the country. He spoke warmly of the close collaboration with Myanmar in the many regional and international fora, including their common membership in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). He sought the support of Myanmar for Sri Lanka’s bid to host the BIMSTEC Secretariat in Colombo, and also looked forward to Myanmar’s participation in the Ministerial Meeting of the ACD which Sri Lanka will be hosting in June this year. The Minister also solicited Myanmar’s support for Sri Lanka’s application to become a Dialogue partner of ASEAN.

Referring to the excellent bilateral relations between the two countries, Minister Bogollagama recalled the generous gift of two elephant tuskers to the Sri Dalada Maligawa last year by the Myanmar Government, and thanked the Myanmar Foreign Minister for readily acceding to his personal request to gift a tusker to the Kotte Rajamaha Vihara. Both sides agreed to work out the modalities for the transportation of the elephant to Sri Lanka expeditiously. He also pointed out that the forthcoming Joint Commission Meeting, chaired by the two Foreign Ministers and scheduled to be held in Colombo in early May this year would provide an opportunity to have a structured dialogue on a number of areas of mutually beneficial cooperation. In particular, the Minister highlighted the importance of greater people to people contact, especially in the light of the keen interest of Buddhists to visit places of pilgrimage in the two countries.

The Myanmar Foreign Minister, U Nyan Win echoed the sentiments of his Sri Lankan counterpart and spoke of the goodwill of the people of Myanmar towards Sri Lanka and pointed out that over two hundred Buddhist monks are currently in Sri Lanka. Equally, a large number of Buddhist pilgrims also visit Sri Lanka. He informed Minister Bogollagama that the Government and the people of Myanmar are keenly looking forward to a visit by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Myanmar this year, to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Foreign Minister Bogollagama endorsing this proposal stated that a State visit by President Rajapaksa to Myanmar would bring the strong bilateral relationship between Sri Lanka and Myanmar to a qualitatively higher level, for the mutual benefit of the two peoples.

- Asian Tribune -

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