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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2040

“ The Sky is the Limit for the Two Island Nations ” – Ambassador Sarath Dissanayake

By Nyliam Vázquez García

Ambassador Sarath Dissanayake welcomes the dialogue, and has much to say, because Sri Lanka and Cuba just celebrated 55 years of diplomatic relations last 29th July. He recalled that his nation was the first Asian country to recognize and support the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, and that this island, Cuba was the site of the first diplomatic delegation from Sri Lanka in Latin America and the Caribbean.

He recalled with emotion that since childhood, Cuba is known as a champion to defend the interests of the people in the struggle against colonialism and for independence. He mentioned that the two countries share common outlook and shared perspectives that could be harnessed for further promotion of their relations and partnership for mutual benefit.

"This political affinity over the years has been developed and transformed into a more dynamic and multifunctional areas of interest. We share very similar views on many an international issues, so we cooperate at NAM, the Group of 77, UN etc, and in this regard, it has become an endearing tie, not only from the political point of view, but also on multifaceted and international relations" said the Ambassador.

Many would be amazed at the strong affirmation of the diplomat about how the Cuban Revolution leaders are known in his land. "You can visit the streets of Colombo or any other area of the country and almost everyone knows who Fidel, Raúl, Che Guevara are and the strong commitment that they have had with just causes," he said.

The way Sri Lanka and Cuba have reciprocated and interacted over the years, no matter the distance, shows the importance of a common relationship described by the Ambassador as "outstanding and unique."

These are the reasons of the joint efforts to celebrate the 55th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations, both in Havana and in Colombo. Ambassador Dissanayake highlights that there has been increasing cooperation in areas of political, cultural and educational interest, as well as in the fields of agriculture, health, science and technology, and people to people contacts to strengthen mutually beneficial links where the strengths of each part is used.

With just over 20 million inhabitants and a tropical climate very similar to ours, Sri Lanka works in order to increase its level of development and also to strengthen its relationships around the world.

The Ambassador highlighted visits to Havana by several ministers of his country, as well as the open and friendly dialogue between the respective Presidents, most recently in June during the Summit of the Group of 77+ China in Bolivia.

The diplomat addressed the prospects for developing the coconut industry in Cuba, with the valuable experience of Sri Lanka on the full utilization of coconut, an exportable line which is the sustenance of many Sri Lankan families. In this regard, he mentioned of a coconut Oil Expeller which would increase efficiency and productivity of the industry and that his country intends to donate to Cuba.

Ambassador Sarath Dissanayake thanked the Government and people of Cuba for the support with scholarships for Sri Lankan students, among which were highlighted, Medicine, Engineering, Sports and Information Technology. Precisely, the training of human resources is a priority of the government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The diplomat also mentioned Cuba's support to fight diseases such as malaria, dengue, prevention of cancer, diabetes and heart disease among others, as well as collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry and joint cooperation in disaster management.

"The Cuban assistance is enormous, despite the difficulties that it faces" he said, and Sri Lanka would like to reciprocate.

The strategic position of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean enables the authorities to promote the country in five areas: as the hub of an important sea route for trade with neighboring countries, commercial hub for trade, investment, infrastructure development, i.e. construction of ports and airports, development of the energy sector, development the sector of services and the development of human resources.

Like Cuba, Sri Lanka is looking forward to become a hub and it opens to the world. Ambassador applauded the new Cuban Foreign Investment Law and mentioned that his country also follows the same way.“We are the perfect partners to help each other despite the geographical distance", he said.

For the results that Cuba has achieved and what remains to be accomplished, "the sky could be the limit, it has highly qualified human resources and that is essential”, he says.

Ambassador Sarath Dissanayake shared with pride with readers of ‘Juventud Rebelde’, the great importance that his country attached to the International Youth Conference held in April 2014, when delegations from more than 150countries arrived at Colombo, including three young Cubans to discuss key issues in this sector.

Ambassador Sarath Dissanayake still has a lot more to be said, but beyond the dialogue I assume that he prefers three words: thanks, friendship and future.

(English Translation of Article).Courtesy of: Juventud Rebelde, Sunday Edition. 10th August 2014. By Nyliam Vázquez García . Available at: http://www.juventudrebelde.cu/internacionales/2014-08-09/el-cielo-es-el-...

- Asian Tribune -

Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Cuba defines the potential of bilateral relations
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