Sri Lanka seeks to strengthen bilateral relations with all countries – President

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday said that Sri Lanka is seeking the support of all partner nations to fast track the country’s development aspirations and improve the livelihood of people.“As a developing country, Sri Lanka wishes to obtain the support of all partner nations to fast track our development aspirations and improve the livelihoods of our people. My Government is keen to further strengthen our relationships with Asian nations and countries farther away”, he said.

The President made these remarks while delivering the Keynote Address at the 26th International Conference on “The Future of Asia” in Tokyo, via video conferencing yesterday (20).

The President said that Sri Lanka will work closely with India and all regional partners to ensure that the Indian Ocean remains secure for the benefit of all countries.

“While we are aware of world power rivalries and regional power dynamics, our foreign policy is neutral.We consider India our closest neighbour and a long-standing friend and we understand

their security concerns and sensitivities. We will work closely with India and all regional partners to ensure that the Indian Ocean remains secure for the benefit of all countries,” President Rajapaksa said. “Our cooperation with China is on par with our overall economic and commercial trajectories. China has been a key investment partner to Sri Lanka, as have many other countries. As a developing country, Sri Lanka wishes to obtain the support of all partner nations to fast track our development aspirations and improve the livelihoods of our people. My Government is keen to further strengthen our relationships with Asian nations and countries farther away.”

President Rajapaksa said the strengthening of relationships and understanding between the countries in Asia is even more important today than it has been in the past, given the ongoing pandemic and its consequences. Cooperation amongst the nations globally should also be strengthened. The COVID-19 pandemic faced by the world at large has cost a large number of lives and devastated economic activity throughout the globe.

The President emphasized that all nations should unite with confidence at a time when unprecedented challenges have been posed.

‘The pandemic does not respect national boundaries. If the virus is allowed to spread unchecked anywhere in the world, deadlier strains could emerge that threaten the progress already made through inoculation elsewhere. Speed is therefore of the essence. Production capacity must be significantly enhanced, and supply chain constraints must be overcome soon to allow the global rollout of vaccines in a short span of time. It is only if this is done that we will see an end to this catastrophe,’ President Rajapaksa said.

The President also stated that Sri Lanka seeks to strengthen bilateral relations with all countries, especially in the Asian region, with regard to trade and investment.

Japan’s Nikkei newspaper has been organizing this conference annually since 1995. This year’s theme is ‘Shaping the Post Covid Era: Asia’s Role in the Global Recovery’. The Future of Asia is an international gathering where political, economic and academic leaders from the Asia-Pacific region offer their opinions frankly and freely on regional issues and the role of Asia in the world.In response to a question posed asking how Sri Lanka, as a South Asian nation, balances the relationship with China and India, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka has maintained historic relationships spanning centuries with both India and China.

(Daily News)

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