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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2702

Sri Lankan President Sirisena to visit Pakistan in March

By Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

Of late, a lot of diplomatic activity taking place in South Asia! In pursuit of his new global diplomatic objective, new Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena, after his visit to India, is going to his maiden visit Pakistan in March. Soon after Indo-China nuclear cooperation agreement, now Sirisena aims at Lanka–Pakistan nuclear cooperation deal as well in order to make the SL nuclear policy credible.

Sri Lanka, according to Pakistan sources, will ink civilian nuclear cooperation deal with Pakistan in the last week of March. Highly-placed diplomatic sources said the details would be worked out in due process before the visit takes place.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was among the first foreign dignitaries who made a phone call to President Maithripala Sirisena on his historic victory in polls last month. The prime minister also invited president Sirisena to visit Pakistan which was accepted. Since then the two foreign offices are engaged in making arrangements for the agreed visit.

The News Friday reported that Islamabad had received the schedule proposed by Colombo for the visit of their president to Pakistan and President Sirisena could be here on 31st of March.

Sri Lanka had to sign a deal for nuclear cooperation with Pakistan for civilian purposes under the umbrella of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the last quarter of the last year and for the purpose the then Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksha had planned to visit Pakistan but unfortunately Islamabad was stranded by the sit-in and the visit couldn’t take place. Sri Lankan high commissioner for Pakistan Air Chief Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody, who was commander of Sri Lankan air-force before assuming the diplomatic assignment in Pakistan, had confirmed the plan to visit Pakistan by his former president but hat couldn’t materialized.

More for economic reasons rather than nuclear ones, the Sri Lankan president also plans to proceed to China soon after visiting Pakistan as he has already visited New Delhi where he signed an agreement with the Indian government for civil nuclear cooperation. He has also hinted at signing a deal with Pakistan for civilian nuclear cooperation. Diplomatic sources say Sri Lanka is maintaining balance in its ties with important countries of the region as the president would be visiting important regional capitals one after other during the year.

Sources reminded that Sri Lanka and Pakistan are two countries of the region who took lead in signing free trade agreement (FTA) and since then their trade is increasing.

The Sri Lankan president will be accorded a befitting reception on his arrival in Pakistan accompanied by a high level delegation. He will be meeting President Mamnoon Hussain and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif separately while he will be having formal talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also visiting Sri Lanka next month, but no schedule has yet been confirmed by the either sides, though Colombo confirmed the PM Modi visit.

Sri Lanka is keen to initiate its nuclear programme and it is eying the Chinese reactors for the purpose.
Interestingly, India and Sri Lanka have seen an uneasy relationship in recent few years due to Indians clandestine interference in the domestic affairs of Sri Lanka. New Delhi has been agitating the question of human rights violations in the wake of Sri Lanka battle against terrorists and insurgents who had support from India.

The warming up of Indo-US relations especially in the nuclear sphere is viewed by many as posing a direct threat to the region and its stability while China blames India for initiating the crisis in South Asia. However, it is an accepted fact that nuclear postures by both India and Pakistan have created a deadly flashpoint in the region.

Unless Kashmir issue is resolved amicably and in favor of Kashmiris, the region would remain a danger zones and all SAARC nations are expected to play a proactive role in finding a lasting solution to the vexed problem of South Asia as soon as possible.

Regional peace means stability and prosperity!

- Asian Tribune -

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Srisena
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