Sri Lanka, Bangladesh pledge to enhance ties

Dhaka, July 15 (IANS) Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena left Dhaka for Colombo on Saturday ending his three-day visit to Bangladesh and pledging to strengthen bilateral relations. The two countries signed 14 agreements for greater trade and investment cooperation.

In a joint statement, Sirisena and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed their “deep satisfaction” after the signing on Friday of 14 agreements of cooperation in trade and investment, agriculture, information and communication technology, higher education, finance and people-to-people connectivity, bdnews24.com reported.

The leaders also directed the authorities for early finalisation of the agreements on customs cooperation, avoidance of double taxation and promotion and protection of investment between the countries.

Sirisena and Hasina also welcomed the signing of the memorandum of understanding on economic partnership between the countries which they believed “should pave way for conclusion of the Free Trade Agreement by end-2017”.

If done, that would be the first FTA of Bangladesh with any country. The leaders also underlined the need for a peaceful, stable, inclusive and sustainable South Asian region, the report said.

In this regard, they agreed to deepen cooperation in various sub-regional and regional cooperation mechanisms, and to work towards focussed and result-oriented regional economic cooperation in the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) and Saarc.

Recognising the threats arising out of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation on any religious or societal pretext, Hasina and Sirisena pledged to work together to counteract all such challenges in both countries and beyond.

Prior to his departure, Sirisena as the Chief Guest attended a high-level business/economic dialogue in Dhaka with the participation of Sri Lanka as well as Bangladesh investors and entrepreneurs.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abdul Hassan Mahmood Ali also addressed the meeting.

Ali said that the Sri Lankan President’s Bangladesh visit would usher in a new era in bilateral relations particularly with the signing of the FTA.

Sirisena also extended an invitation to the Bangladesh Prime Minister to visit Colombo in 2018.

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