ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
25 November 2004
Sri Lanka, Iran sign bilateral agreements
Nov 26, Colombo: Sri Lanka and Iran signed a preferential trade agreement and several memoranda of understanding yesterday at the Islamic Republic Mansion in Tehran, the Office of the President said.
Sri Lankan President Kumaratunga and Iranian President Khatami briefed the media immediately after signing agreements on the environment, health, mutual cooperation and exemption of visas for diplomatic and other passports.
President Khatami told the media the agreements would be mutually beneficial, particularly in the tea trade, manufacturing and petroleum sectors. He emphasized the common goals of both nations, which include seeking peace and stability in their respective regions, and said the two countries hold similar views on terrorism and all forms of coercion.
President Khatami also said Sri Lanka and Iran could work together within the framework of the Non-Aligned Movement. Asked about Iran’s nuclear program and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he said Iran believes in the right to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes.
President Kumaratunga told the media that both countries could strengthen their long-established ties. “We hold similar views and positions on many issues; during this visit we explored many areas of possible cooperation and reached agreements to work in those areas.”
She also said that promoting Iranian investment in Sri Lanka, especially in joint ventures, would help both countries.
She further said that Sri Lanka became a member of the IAEA board recently. The President pointed out that Sri Lanka is well aware of the issues concerning Iran and that the matter is currently under “very serious review”.
Iran could assist in Sri Lanka’s peace process, President Khatami said. “We are very appreciative of the Sri Lankan government’s effort to establish peace and stability in Sri Lanka, which has the capacity to develop by solving this problem that has retarded its economic development.
“All communities must live peacefully in a united country; our social and political groups welcome your efforts in the peace process, and we call on all parties to support Sri Lanka to solve this issue,” President Khatami said.