Ambassador Haidari Visits Athukorala Tea Factory in Pitigala to Explore Export Opportunities to Afghanistan
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.
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.
On return home, Afghan fellows will have improved their journalistic skills and contribute to Afghanistan's vibrant, free press.
Ambassador Haidari Meets Young Afghan Leaders to Discuss Preventing Violent Extremism Through Education in South Asia
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:"
Afghanistan and Sri Lanka Chambers of Commerce to Sign MOU for Promoting Bilateral Trade and Investment
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.
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.
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.
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
Read a recent article by Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari on "Afghanistan-Sri Lanka: Natuaral Partners in Democracy and Development."
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.
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.