Saturday, 14 December 2019 10:04

Sri Lanka, Japan eye development cooperation in variety of sectors

Sri Lanka and Japan reaffirm their commitment to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in vital sectors of economic development and identify key areas of such cooperation. Information and communication technology (ICT), harbour infrastructure – including the Eastern Container Terminal (ECT), expressways, agriculture, digitalisation of television transmission, disaster prevention, and security cooperation are some of the areas identified.

This was stated when the visiting Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Motegi Toshimitsu called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday morning. He was accompanied by an eight-member high-level delegation.

Congratulating President Rajapaksa on his recent Election victory, Minister Toshimitsu called Sri Lanka “a special friend of Japan”. Extending an invitation to the President to visit Japan, he said: “We will be hosting an international conference titled ‘Friends of Asia’ which will be held in May next year. It would be an appropriate time for your visit to our country”. President Rajapaksa was in agreement.

The visiting Foreign Minister expressed Japan’s hope that continuous progress in bilateral relations would be made under President Rajapaksa’s leadership. “Japan wishes to set up a bilateral mechanism to oversee successful implementation of mutually agreed development projects. It will help to introduce high-tech Japanese companies to Sri Lanka,” Minister Toshimitsu said.

“Ours is a small economy, but we have a skilled, educated and talented workforce. My intention is to build an employment-oriented, technology-driven economy.

We seek Japan’s assistance to reach that goal,” President Rajapaksa stated. The President also said that he was open to foreign investments from all countries, especially the countries from within the region, such as China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia, and Singapore.

Dealing with regional cooperation, the Japanese Minister expressed his country’s commitment to the concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. He also said that defence, security, and stability were the priority areas of regional cooperation. In response, President Rajapaksa said: “The Indian Ocean must remain a zone of peace, free of any conflict.”

The President, reiterating his stand in foreign relations, observed: “Sri Lanka does not want to get involved in rivalries among world powers. We seek friendship and reject domination by others.”

The Japanese Minister said that his country would stand for peace, stability, and reconciliation among communities in Sri Lanka. “The political process of reconciliation must move forward together with overall economic development, infrastructure upgrading, and raising the living standards of people especially in the North and East,” the President said in his remark.

Ambassador of Japan in Sri Lanka Sugiyama Akira, Executive Assistant to the Japanese Minister Matano Motosoada, and Secretary to the President Dr. P. B. Jayasundera were also present.


(FT)

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