Strengthening Lanka-Myanmar ties:
President's Myanmar visit pays dividends
President Mahinda Rajapaksa on a two-day state visit
to Myanmar had discussions with senior leaders of Myanmar including
State Peace and Development Council Chairman Senior General Than Shwe
and Prime Minister General Thein Sein.
During the meeting President Rajapaksa recalled his
previous visit to Myanmar as the then Prime Minister in 2004 to
participate in the World Buddhist Conference in Yangoon. Expressing
satisfaction at being able to successfully conclude the humanitarian
operations against LTTE terrorism, the President said that his visit to
Myanmar is the first foreign visit after victory.
The President also said that he was able to create a
just society in which everybody could live in unity, harmony and dignity
in accordance with Buddhist values. Myanmar State Peace and Development
Council President Senior General Than Shwe explained to President
Rajapaksa the socio-political development of Myanmar since independence.
On the occasion of the visit of President Rajapaksa the Myanmar
Government had donated US $ 50, 000 for the welfare of the Internally
Displaced Persons in the North of Sri Lanka.
President Rajapaksa thanked Myanmar for the
humanitarian gesture of providing relief to IDPs and also for the
assistance rendered in preventing drug trafficking and arms smuggling in
the region that adversely affected Sri Lanka.
During the bilateral talks it was agreed to update the
Air Services Agreement signed between the two countries in 1950. the
Myanmar government also presented a tusker to Sri Lanka and promised to
supply Sri Lanka with marble for the project to construct nine dagabas
in the nine provinces of the country.
The two delegations also signed a Memorandum of
Understanding on promoting tourism between the two countries and agreed
to ease visa restrictions. It was also decided to offer two Myanmar
Security Forces officers an annual scholarship for training at the
Kotelawala Defence University.
The two countries also agreed to work with mutual
understanding and close cooperation at international fora.
President Rajapaksa also extended an invitation to
Senior General Than Shwe to visit Sri Lanka. The invitation was
accepted, Myanmar Foreign Minister will shortly visit Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, President Rajapaksa yesterday worshipped
the Uppattathanit Pagoda at the administrative capital Nejito a replica
of the world famous Shwedagon Pagoda.
Accompanying the President was First Lady Shirathi
Rajapaksa. The President praised the authorities of the Pagoda for the
devout religious rites being performed at this shrine.
The President and the entourage thereafter visited the
national herbarium at Nejito and planted a star flower plant to mark his
visit to Myanmar. He was received warmly by the Mayor of Nejito Colonel
Thein Nyunt and Lady Nyunt.
The President next arrived at Yangon airport and was
received by the Mayor of the capital city and participated in a banquet
in his honour given by the Mayor and participated in the ceremony to
open the Meththa housing scheme in the city. He handed over the keys of
the houses to 10 beneficiaries and unveiled the plaque.
Associated with the President were the Most Ven
Inamaluwe Sri Sumangala Anunayaka Thera of the Malwatte Chapter and
Aluthwewa Soratha Thera and the Kandevihara Buddharakkhitha Thera and
the Chairman All Ceylon Buddhist Congress Jagath Sumathipala.
The Meththa housing scheme was built for the benefit
of the people affected by the recent cyclone that hit Myanmar at the
instance of the Most Ven Bodagama Chandima Thera and comprised of 736
houses at the first phase to be followed by schools, children's
playgrounds funded by the Theravadi Educational Society on a concept of
President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The Sri Lanka Embassy had played a key role in
implementing the project, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama who
accompanied President Rajapaksa said.
Courtesy: Daily News