Jaffna: As part of his provincial visit on March 11, 2020, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari met Jaffna University Registrar Visvanathan Kandeepan and discussed his efforts to deepen people-to-people ties between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

Afghan student Nawab Yousufi, studying computer science, joined them in the meeting, as they agreed to initiate the signing of a cooperation MOU between Kabul and Jaffna Universities and to provide one scholarship annually for an Afghan student to pursue a degree in medicine or other hard sciences field.

The Registrar welcomed the Ambassador's proposals for consideration soon.

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Jaffna: - As part of his provincial visit to the north, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari called on the Honorable Mayor of the Jaffna City Emmanuel Arnold, on March 11, 2020. They discussed post-war municipal issues of relevance to Afghanistan and the lessons to be learned from Jaffna's experience in property and land dispute resolution.

Moreover, they explored opportunities for a sister-city relationship as an effective mechanism to further deepen Afghanistan-Sri Lanka ties. Moreover, we touched on bilateral business opportunities, as I presented to the Mayor a token of appreciation from Afghanistan: our world-class saffron. 

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Colombo: - In an effort to further deepen cultural ties between Afghanistan-Sri Lanka, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari met the Chairman of the Sri Lankan National Film Corporation Dr. Jayantha Dharmadasa, on March 06, 2020. They discussed opportunities for cooperation with the Afghan Film Organization (AFO) and agreed on a weeklong Afghan Film Festival to be hosted by the Sri Lankan National Film Corporation in Colombo. 

The screening of Afghanistan's best films should give the arts-loving Sri Lankan viewers a glimpse into the Afghan society, culture, economy, and polity. They also discussed technical capacity-building exchanges, as the Afghan film industry's been affected by years of imposed war, undermining the development of once burgeoning Afghan film industry. Dr. Dharmadasa kindly offered to invite Afghan Film President Sahraa Karimi to begin collaboration.
 
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Colombo: - Following his recent meetings with HE President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and HE Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari called on Sri Lanka's new Defense Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne, on February 19, 2020. They discussed numerous opportunities for bilateral security and defense cooperation, focusing on such maritime security threats as terrorism, drug trafficking, human trafficking, as well as extremism, and radicalization.
 
They agreed that Afghanistan could benefit from Sri Lanka's war-to-peace- transition experience, including peacemaking, reconciliation, reintegration of former combatants, as well as ongoing peacebuilding programs. In this light, they agreed on the signing of a proposed defense cooperation MOU, enabling the two countries to benefit from each other's military expertise and experience in the fight against shared threats. 
 
Click here to read a related news article. 
 
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Colombo: - After two days of friendly and diligent negotiation, the Afghanistan-Sri Lanka legal heads of inter-ministerial delegation initialed a bilateral Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons, in presence of Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari, on February 25, 2020. The final Agreement will be signed at a later time soon.

Read an early article by Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari on "Afghanistan and Sri Lanka: Natural Partners in Democracy and Development," which highlights the growing Afghanistan- Sri Lanka relations in regional and global contexts, in light of their shared interests in the political, defense, economic, social and cultural areas.

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Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari had a productive meeting with Mayor of Colombo Rosy Senanayake, on February 20, 2020. They discussed the possibility of establishing a sister-city relationship between Kabul and Colombo, which would allow the two cities to initiate collaboration on issues of mutual interest. 

As a strong voice for women's empowerment, she praised Afghan women's gains, their resilience and courage, as well as the firm commitment of President Ashraf Ghani and First Lady Rula Ghani to gender equality in Afghanistan. In this light, they discussed the importance of exchanging Afghanistan-Sri Lanka lessons to be learned for empowering women, girls, youth, and children -- who constitute the majorities in both countries. 
 
Ambassador Haidari looks forward to working with Mayor Senanayake and her able team to further deepen people-to-people ties between our two beautiful nations.
 
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Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari met with the Sri Lankan Air Force Commander, Air Marshal Sumangala Dias, on February 20, 2020. They explored Air Force-to-Air Force cooperation on issues of bilateral defense interest. 

As a combat pilot, the Air Marshal reminisced about some of the toughest counter-terrorism missions he used to undertake, which the Ambassador has read about in the Road to Nandikadal, a book on the successful counterterrorism operations of the Sri Lankan military that ended in 2009.
 
They agreed that once the initiated bilateral defense cooperation agreement was signed, the two countries' Air Forces could begin collaboration on issues of common concern and interest in the region. 
 
 
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Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari had a productive meeting with the Chairman and CEO of the Sri Lankan Airlines Ashok Pathirage and Vipula Gunatilleka, on Febaruary 18, 2020. They discussed the establishment of a weekly Colombo-Kabul flight, based on the shared vision of Presidents Ashraf Ghani and Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who firmly believe that regional cooperation towards economic integration, as envisioned by SAARC, must begin with establishing connectivity among the nations of South Asia as one of the most resourceful and yet least connected regions of the world.

This fruitful meeting followed up on a recent discussion, which Acting Minister of Finance Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi and Ambassador Haidari had with President Rajapaksa, who has so kindly instructed relevant Sri Lankan officials to look into starting a weekly Colombo-Kabul flight for bilateral commercial and tourism, further deepening Afghanistan-Sri Lanka ties.

 

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Pitigala: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari engaged in village diplomacy as part of his last February visit to Pitigala where he interacted with the hospitable and warm people of Sri Lanka, enjoying a chat with young monks in search of enlightenment. Their key message: "do no harm" in whatever you do. He observed them, as they swept around the temple and played with their pets.
 
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Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari helped facilitate the signing of a MOU between the Afghanistan Young Generation Organization (ANGO) and the Institute of National Security Studies of Sri Lanka (INSSSL), last February. 
 
Director-General Jayanath Colombage and Mr. Iliass Alami agreed to place three Afghan research fellows at the INSSSL for a month, during which they would be guided to research topics of mutual interest, including peacemaking and peacebuilding, to draw lessons from Sri Lanka's war-to-peace-transition experience for Afghanistan. 
 
The Ambassador encouraged similar partnerships among other Afghanistan and Sri Lanka think-tanks.
 
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