Pitigala: - Following his recent meeting with Chairman Anura Athukorala on February 17, 2020, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari was pleased to have visited the Athukorala Tea Factory in Pitigala and tasted some 18 different types of tea to see which ones Afghans would potentially like to consume. 

 
This would help the Chairman take the right tea samples along with him on his upcoming visit to Kabul for meetings with the Chamber of Commerce of Afghanistan and our key tea importers, to be organized by this Embassy.
 
As Afghanistan-Sri Lanka relations continue growing, Ambassador Haidari strongly encourages businesses on both sides to visit each other for trade and investment. 
 
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Colombo: -  Last February, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari facilitated the signing of a MOU between Afghanistan New Generation Organization (ANGO) and the News First, one of the key Sri Lankan media organizations.

Mr. Chevaan Daniel and Mr. Iliass Alami agreed for two Afghan fellows to be placed at the News First for a month to gain expertise and experience in broadcast journalism, as well as covering rural development and peacebuilding issues.

On return home, Afghan fellows will have improved their journalistic skills and contribute to Afghanistan's vibrant, free press.
 
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Colombo: - Get to know these young leaders representing the "New Afghanistan" in the weeklong UNESCO workshop on "Preventing Violent Extremism Through Education in South Asia:"

- Mr. Parwiz Mosamim
- Mr. Ahmadzia Momand
- Ms. Soudaba Wahabzada
 
On February 15, 2020, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari welcomed them home at their Embassy and had a very informative exchange about their views regarding the root-causes and state sponsorship of violent extremism in South Asia where Afghanistan sadly remains its primary victim. We all hoped the ongoing peace process would soon end the imposed war in our beautiful homeland.
 
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Colombo: -  Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari was featured on the frontpage of the February 14, 2020 issue of the Daily News, on which he commented saying: "We'll soon witness another step forward in our ties, as the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and I agreed to sign a MOU between CCC and the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) in the near future. 
 
Read the news article to learn about the many bilateral investment opportunities in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka--which the Afghanistan-Sri Lanka Trade Desk to be launched, following the signing of CCC and ACCI MOU, will facilitate.
 
 
Read the full news report here.
 
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Colombo: - On February 13, 2020, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Commercial Bank of Celyon Sivakrishnarajah Renganathan called on Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari. The two sides discussed the recent visit of Acting Minister of Finance Mohammad H. Qayuomi and his fruitful meeting with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa this past weekend -- which included a discussion of investment opportunities in Afghanistan's virgin markets, including the banking sector.


Ambassador Haidari thanked the CEO for his interest in the Afghan banking sector and encouraged him to visit Kabul to explore joint venture business opportunities.

The CEO noted their growing investment in foreign markets, including in Bangladesh and Myanmar. With such experience, Ambassador Haidari told the CEO their bank could easily succeed in Afghanistan, including in the microfinance sector, which he welcomed.

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Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari was immensely delighted to have located and met Afghan-Sri Lankan Zameer Careem (Khan), whose great grandfather hailed from Afghanistan and later settled down in Sri Lanka permanently.

Zameer's traced his Afghan ancestry and published "The Forgotten Afghans of Sri Lanka," which they discussed at length on February 13, 2020. He's passionate about the history of Afghanistan and requested the Ambassador to get him an autographed photo of President Ashraf Ghani to add to his collection of 50 other world leaders. Ambassador Haidari recently facilitated this, as the President kindly sent Zameer his autographed photo.

Ambassador Haidari is proud of Zameer's many achievements as a medical doctor in and out of Sri Lanka.

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Colombo: - Dr. Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi, Acting Minister of Finance and Chief Adviser to President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Infrastructure, Human Capital, and Technology, met with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today. The President warmly welcomed the visiting Minister and Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari at his residence, as the two sides discussed a wide range of bilateral and multilateral issues of common interest and concern.

Minister Qayoumi conveyed the warm regards of President Ghani to President Rajapaksa and extended to him an invitation to visit Afghanistan. He also congratulated him on assuming the presidency of Sri Lanka, following his electoral victory last November, which the President appreciated. Minister Qayoumi highlighted the growing Afghanistan-Sri Lanka ties and noted that there is much potential to be realized to further deepen the two countries’ relations. In doing so, he emphasized the importance of establishing direct air connectivity between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, starting with a weekly flight to operate between Colombo-Kabul-Mumbai-Colombo to meet the increasing demand for both transporting passengers and goods to and from the two countries.

President Rajapaksa welcomed the Minister’s proposal, which he said he would instruct the Chairman of the Sri Lankan Airlines to consider for implementation. Minister Qayoumi appreciated the support of the President, as he highlighted the key Afghan goods—including fresh fruits, dried nuts, precious and semi-precious stones, and certain rare earth minerals—with high demand in Sri Lanka, which could be exported to the Sri Lankan markets once the air corridor was in place. He particularly pointed out Afghanistan’s demand for tourism, medical tourism, and higher education tourism in Sri Lanka, as well as employment of Sri Lankan skilled labor, which could be facilitated as soon as air connectivity were established between the two countries. Indeed, this would greatly contribute to the economic growth of Sri Lanka, while helping Afghanistan address its short-term quality medical and higher education needs.

Moreover, the two sides exchanged views on bilateral and regional cooperation through generation, transmission, and consumption of electricity, as Central Asia is blessed with an abundance of power, which could be shared with South Asia to meet its increased electricity needs. The Minister also discussed this on a panel discussion hosted by the World Bank in Colombo this weekend, highlighting ways Afghanistan and Sri Lanka could collaborate.

Finally, Ambassador Haidari recalled his last meeting with President Rajapaksa, pointing out opportunities for bilateral security and defense cooperation, including opportunities to learn from Sri Lanka’s war-to-peace-transition experience. In this regard, Minister Qayoumi noted that Afghanistan’s peace process could benefit from Sri Lanka’s insights into successful programs of reconciliation, reintegration of former combatants, as well as ongoing peace-building work. President Rajapaksa offered his full support for initiating bilateral defense cooperation to share with Afghanistan their relevant experiences and military expertise, including in the areas of counterterrorism, mine clearance, counter-narcotics, as well as rehabilitation of former fighters.

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Unofficial Translation

Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa

The President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka:

On behalf of the people of Afghanistan, please allow me to extend to Your Excellency and your nation my sincere congratulations and best wishes on the 72nd Anniversary of the Independence Day of the friendly country of Sri Lanka.

In the spirit of results-driven cooperation, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka have taken major steps towards further expanding the friendly, bilateral relations that exist between our two countries. I am confident that the active presence of the diplomatic representatives of Afghanistan and Sri Lanka in each other’s capitals and our ongoing collaboration at the regional and international organizations will further contribute to the growing, friendly Afghanistan-Sri Lanka ties.

Expressing my happiness and satisfaction with the level of expanding cooperation between our two countries, I wish Your Excellency fine health and further success, and the friendly people of Sri Lanka continued peace, prosperity, and progress.

Mohammad Ashraf Ghani

The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Kabul – Afghanistan

February 2, 2020

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Read a recent article by Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari on "Afghanistan-Sri Lanka: Natuaral Partners in Democracy and Development."

Colombo: - South Asian Association for Regional Cooperaiton (SAARC) Secretary General-Designate Ambassador Esala Weerakoon called on Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari on January 27, 2020. They discussed a wide range of issues related to the vision and mission objectives of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation as a regional grouping and how the intergovernmental organization could further bolster regional cooperation on such common issues of regional interest as trade and investment; poverty reduction and sustainable development; environment and climate-action; as well as cultural cooperation and people-to-people ties.

Ambassador Haidari highlighted President Ashraf Ghani's vision of win-win cooperation against confrontation, which underpins the Afghan foreign policy, promoting regional security and development cooperation to address jointly the challenges facing South Asia. 

In this regard, he extended to the Secretary General-Designate the full support of the Government of Afghanistan, including the Afghan Embassy in Colombo, as he would soon assume office to help revitalize SAARC as a regional grouping -- enabling it to realize its vision and core mission objectives.

Ambassador Haidari congratulated Ambassador Weerakoon on his appointment, while sharing with him one of his recent articles on the role SAARC can play in securing South Asia thru regional economic integration.

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Colombo: - Chairman of the SAARC Cultural Center Board Abdul Moqim Afghan, Director of Planning and Policy of the Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan, called on Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari, following his working visit to Colombo. They discussed his initiatives, including the recent recruitment of highly qualified personnel for the SAARC Cultural Center, to help further enhance cultural cooperation among the member-states.

Ambassador Haidari welcomed these steps taken by the new Chairman and offered him full support. Chairman Afghan also informed the Ambassador of the SAARC Non Violence Day to be celebrated in Afghanistan in October, as well as the SAARC Archaeology and Heritage Management Training Workshop in the country in September. He highlighted his Ministry's preparedness to host delegations from the member-states for these amd future events organized by the SAARC Cultural Center based in Colombo.

In doing so, Ambassador Haidari offered him the full support of the Afghan Embassy in Colombo and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kabul -- which he appreciated.

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