Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday discussed areas of common interest like tourism and agriculture and ways to strengthen political and trade ties for their mutual benefit.
Khan, who is here on a two-day visit, called on Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat here and held a one-on-one meeting with him.
"Had an excellent meeting with President of Sri Lanka @GotabayaR. We discussed our common passion for poverty alleviation esp in our rural areas. We also exchanged views on how to give farmers more for their produce and get cheaper food and fruits to the population by using technology to eliminate middlemen," Khan tweeted.
Had an excellent mtg with President of Sri Lanka @GotabayaR. We discussed our common passion about poverty alleviation esp in our rural areas. We also exchanged views on how to give farmers more for their produce & get cheaper food & fruits to the population by using technology— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) February 24, 2021
"We also discussed other dimensions of our extensive ties to strengthen political & trade ties for our mutual benefit," he wrote.
President Rajapaksa on his Twitter handle said he had a "productive" discussion with Khan.
"The discussions were mainly focused on common interests such as trade, tourism & adoption of technology in agriculture which both countries could positively leverage on," he wrote.
Had a productive discussion with #Pakistani PM @ImranKhanPTI this morning.— Gotabaya Rajapaksa (@GotabayaR) February 24, 2021
The discussions were mainly focused on common interests such as Trade, Tourism & adoption of technology in Agriculture which both countries could positively leverage on#SriLanka #Pakistan #lka pic.twitter.com/j6iUMRcf4f
The Sri Lankan President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan had a long discussion on bilateral relations. The Pakistani leader said the talks were highly productive, Colombo Page news portal reported.
The two leaders also discussed how to exchange technical knowledge to promote agriculture in the two countries.
The two leaders stated that their goal was to uplift the agrarian economy in a way that would provide higher incomes to farmers and subsidized prices to consumers. Khan said that Pakistan’s agricultural economy is very similar to that of Sri Lanka.
Pakistan is a major player in Sri Lanka’s export sector. The President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan also focused on the potential for trade promotion and expansion of investment opportunities between the two countries, the newspaper said.
With the control of the COVID pandemic, President Rajapaksa invited the people of Pakistan to visit Sri Lanka.
Khan, in an address following his meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday, said that his maiden visit is aimed at strengthening the bilateral relationship.
Khan said that he was looking forward to enhancing trade ties with Sri Lanka through the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Balochistan with China's Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is accompanying Khan, said Pakistan has offered Sri Lanka a credit line of USD 15 million for defence cooperation, according to media reports from Pakistan.
"Defence and security cooperation to end the menace of terrorism are of equal importance to both Pakistan and Sri Lanka," Geo News quoted Qureshi as saying.
The two sides also discussed ways to enhance bilateral trade and investment during the visit, Qureshi said.
He said that trade between the two countries was below potential even though a free trade agreement existed.
Pakistan is also looking at ways to promote tourism, Qureshi said, noting that it had several Buddhist sites that would be attractive to Sri Lanka's citizens, Dawn newspaper reported.
Pakistan has offered Sri Lanka to use the Gwadar port for trade with the Central Asian countries, Pakistan Foreign Office said on Wednesday.
It said Qureshi during a bilateral meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena in Colombo underscored the importance Pakistan attached to its relations with Sri Lanka.
In the context of economic connectivity, Qureshi highlighted that the CPEC could be a game-changer for the entire region.
Qureshi also highlighted the benefits of linking the Gwadar Port in Pakistan to ports in Sri Lanka.
He “invited Sri Lanka to benefit from the Gwadar Port for easy access to the Central Asian markets”.
Prime Minister Khan, a former captain of Pakistan's cricket team, also tweeted that he inaugurated a sports complex in Sri Lanka.
"I inaugurated Sri Lanka's High-Performance Sports Complex. It was great to meet the Sri Lankan cricket greats invited on the occasion who had played against me," Khan tweeted.
(With PTI inputs.)