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Pakistan, Sri Lanka agree to bolster bilateral ties

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Pakistan and Sri Lanka on Tuesday agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations in diverse areas including trade, investment, science and technology and culture through enhanced connectivity.

“My visit is aimed at strengthening bilateral relationship [with Sri Lanka] specially trade and economic ties through enhanced connectivity…,” said Prime Minister Imran Khan while addressing a joint press conference with his Sri Lanka counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa here after holding one-on-one and delegation talks.

Imran Khan since Pakistan was part of the Chinese President’s Belt and Road Initiative through its flagship China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, Sri Lanka can benefit from the project through enhanced connectivity up to the Central Asian States.

The Prime Minister, who was in Sri Lanka on a two-day visit, said that he had asked his delegation to find ways and means to enhance trade and economic relations between the two countries through increased connectivity.

Prime Minister Imran said that with Pakistan having faced the worst kind of terrorism for 10 years which took the lives of over 70,000 people and Sri Lanka also facing the menace for 30 years, the two countries shared the common problem.

He mentioned the role played by Pakistan in addressing the problem of terrorism in Sri Lanka that was hindering progress and development.

The Prime Minister said that with 10 years of terrorism, there hardly came any investment in Pakistan and Sri Lanka also faced similar problems.

He said that now Pakistan and Sri Lanka like other countries of world faced the situation of coronavirus. The poor and developing nations were badly hit by COVID-19 in terms of economy, he remarked.

The Prime Minister said that during the talks with Sri Lankan counterpart, the two sides discussed how the poor and developing countries could get debt relief from the developed world as well as the international financial institutions.

Highlighting the gravity of economic situation faced by the developing countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Imran Khan said that Pakistan had provided a stimulus package of US $ 8 billion as compared to US $ 3000 billion provided by the United States to its people.

The Prime Minister said that with the situation of this discrepancy of resource allocation found between the developed and developing world to COVID-19, the United Nations and other international institutions should step in to help the poor and developing nations.

Coming back to bilateral relations, Imran Khan said Pakistan having various heritage sites was home to ancient civilizations of Gandhara and Budhism. Pakistan has also recently discovered a biggest Budha in the country, he added.

The Prime Minister, who extended an invitation to his Sri Lankan counterpart visit Pakistan, also stressed for enhanced cooperation between the two countries in the field of cultural tourism.

Imran Khan said he was not stranger in Sri Lanka as he has been visiting the country from his cricketing period and played matches.

The Prime Minister recalled how Sri Lankan cricket revolutionized and became the world class team.

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