On the invitation of his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Imran Khan will undertake a two-day official visit to Colombo from February 23. This will be his first visit to Sri Lanka after assuming office.
Prime Minister Imran Khan will be the first Head of Government to visit Sri Lanka since Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa assumed office last year.
The Prime Minister will be accompanied by a high-level delegation, including members of the cabinet and senior officials, says a Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release.
The Prime Minister’s programme includes meetings with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. He will also lead the delegation level talks, covering all areas of cooperation between the two countries, including trade and investment, health and education, agriculture and science and technology, defence and security, and culture and tourism. Besides bilateral matters, views will be exchanged on key regional and international issues.
During the visit, the reconstitution of the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Association will be also announced to further promote parliamentary exchanges between the two countries.
The Prime Minister will also participate in a joint “Trade and Investment Conference” aimed at promoting trade and investment between the two countries. A number of MoUs to enhance bilateral cooperation will also be signed during the visit.
The Prime Minister was earlier scheduled to address the Sri Lankan parliament, but the event was canceled last night. The Sri Lankan government and Pakistani government both maintained that the visit will undertake keeping in mind the necessary COVID-19 protocols.
The Prime Minister will be holding delegation-level talks with the President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. During the visit, PM Khan will also be inaugurating a sports complex in Colombo.
Accompanying him in his high-level delegation would be the Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Advisor on Trade and Commerce Razzaq Dawood. The Prime Minister during his visit to Sri Lanka would be focusing on cultural tourism.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka have maintained close, cordial, and mutually supportive relations since 1948. The two countries share a commonality of views on a wide range of international and regional issues. Both sides also work closely at the international and regional fora including the United Nations and SAARC.
Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa is familiar with Pakistan, where he attended courses in military training institutions.
In a tweet, Sri Lankan President said that he looks forward to welcoming the Pakistani Prime Minister and that “this visit will further reinforce our bilateral relationship and pave way for joint ventures that mutually benefit both our nations.”
Both countries have for decades enjoyed a broad-based relationship on trade, commerce, culture, and defense matters. Pakistan Armed Forces in 2009 had supported Sri Lanka by providing high tech military equipment and intelligence support in its fight against the LTTE.
At that time, Pakistan stood out when many world capitals had imposed embargoes on Sri Lanka. Khan’s visit comes at a time when Sri Lanka has taken its relations with China several notches higher.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit will help further strengthen the Pakistan-Sri Lanka relationship and enhance mutual cooperation in diverse fields.