Sri Lanka President focuses on investments, bilateral ties in New York


A Sri Lanka delegation led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has focused on attracting new investments and enhancing bilateral ties with other nations on the sidelines of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The attempt to attract new investments comes as the island nation is facing the risk of sovereign debt default, global analysts say, while domestically facing a widening budget deficit after the pandemic hit state revenue and increased government expenditure.

President Rajapaksa invited Kuwait investors for new investments in the China-backed Port City, solar energy and oil refining sectors when he met Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al- Hamad Al-Sabah earlier this week.

“The President…. made a request for more employment opportunities for skilled workers,” the President’s Media Division (PMD) said in a statement.

“The President also drew the attention of the Kuwaiti Prime Minister to the investment opportunities available to Kuwait in the Colombo Port City, in solar and wind energy and oil refining sectors.”

The two leaders also discussed food security, education, information technology and cyber security, the PMD said.

Later Rajapaksa met his Latvian counterpart Egils Levits and exchanged views on possible future measures for the betterment of the tourism industry once the pandemic eases.

“The two leaders also focused on enhancing cooperation between the two countries in the fields of education and digital technology,” the PMD said.

Meanwhile Foreign Minister G L Peiris met his Australian counterpart Marise Payne in New York and expressed that Sri Lanka is very much interested in gaining assistance in vocational education.

“Minister Peiris apprised Minister Payne that much headway has been made in the economic development of the Northern and Eastern provinces of the country as well as with reconciliation,” Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

Pieris also invited Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Yousef Al-Othaimeen to Sri Lanka when he met the latter to see developments on the ground, first hand, given that a scheduled visit had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Foreign Minister appreciated the support that the OIC had extended to Sri Lanka in the multilateral arena, including at the Human Rights Council, where they had opposed countries being singled out for political purposes and urged that countries be allowed to solve their national issues,” the foreign ministry said.

It was the first meeting between the two after the General Secretariat of the OIC in December had expressed concern over Sri Lankan authorities’ insistence on cremating Muslim COVID-19 victims and called for respect to the burial ritual in the Muslim faith.

Sri Lanka attempted to persuade the OICs to support the island nation against the UNHRC resolution in March this year, but only had little success.

The foreign ministry said the OIC Secretary-General appreciated the government’s measures to allow Muslim COVID-19 victims to be buried according to Muslim traditions. (Colombo/Sep22/2021)

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