Kandy: - On December 06, 2019, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari called on the Honorable Lalith Gamage, the newly appointed Governor of the Central Province, discussing opportunities for cooperation at the provincial level between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Among others, the Ambassador proposed the establishment of a sister-city relationship between Kabul and Kabdy. 

Ambassador Haidari also discussed provincial exchanges, focusing on governance, higher education, economic and commercial, as well as cultural cooperation. They agreed on an MOU on sister-city relationship to be signed soon.

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Kandy: - On December 6, 2019, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari visited the University of Perideniya and met its Vice Chancellor Professor Upul Dissanayake and his deputy, discussing scholarship opportunities for Afghan students in the fields of engineering, agriculture, medicine, and dentistry.

The Vice Chancellor welcomed the request from Ambassador Haidari, saying they would consider taking more #Afghan students for postgraduate education in the said fields. They currently have one Afghan student, pursuing a PhD degree in agriculture, whom the Ambassador met today.

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Kandy: - On December 06, 2019, as part of his official visit to Kandy, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari called on the Ven. Thibbotuwe Sri Sumangala Mahanayake (Malwatta Thero), the Head Monk of the Temple of the Tooth Relic, in Kandy and conveyed to him the warm regards of the Afghan Government and people.

Ambassador Haidari discussed the measures taken to preserve and protect our cultural heritage, including the statues of Buddha in Bamiyan. He also briefed him on the growing people-to-people ties between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka and invited him and his followers to consider visiting Bamiyan, while encouraging other Sri Lankans to do the same.

The Reverend Monk extended his warm regards to the Afghan people, as they exchanged thoughtful gifts.

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Colombo: - On December 4, 2019, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari hosted a working breakfast for 20 Women Peace Leaders from Afghanistan on a visit to Sri Lanka for a week of fruitful discussions on peacebuilding and the lessons to be learned for Afghanistan. He listened, as each of them commented on their meetings, discussions, as well as site visits, including to the north of Sri Lanka, Jaffna.

They appreciated the warm hospitality of all Sri Lanka, whom they've met, exchanging views on peace, reconciliation and reintegration of former combatants and internally displaced persons. They particularly highlighted the role of Sri Lanka's strong women in the peacebuilding process--advancing women's many causes as the primary victims of armed conflict. Inspired by Sri Lankan women, they look forward to playing an even more active role in the Afghan peace process. 

Ambassador Haidari briefed them on the recent meeting of President Ashraf Ghani with Sri Lankan Ambassador to Afghanistan Gagan Bulathsinghala, in which the President noted the importance of learning relevant lessons from Sri Lanka's best practices in peacebuilding. 

The Ambassador looks forward to meeting President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa soon to discuss--among other things--closer bilateral collaboration on exchanging experiences and expertise on effective counter-insurgency and peacebuilding.

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Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari met with His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, on the sidelines of the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony hosted by the Embassy of Palestine on December 1, 2019. His Eminence embodies the core teachings of Prophet Jesus Christ (PBU), who guided his followers to the straight path -- embracing peace, fraternity, charity and service against greed and harm to others.

His Eminence M.C. Ranjith demonstrated exemplary leadership, following the Easter terrorist attacks, speaking up against violence in retaliation for the despicable acts of the same terrorists, who daily attack to kill and maim devout, innocent Muslims in mosques, markets, and schools across Afghanistan. 

This evening, the Muslim and Christian communities came together in solidarity to commemorate and celebrate the birthday of Prophet Jesus Christ (BPU) -- whose guidance on peaceful coexistence, service and forgiveness remains timeless and shared by Prophet Muhammad (PBU) and the Lord Buddha: "do no harm to others."

Ambassador Haidari thanked his Palestinian counterpart Ambassador Zuhair M. H. Zaid for his warm hospitality.

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Colombo: - On November 28, 2019, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari delivered welcoming remarks at the Women's Education and Research Center of Sri Lanka, which in collaboration with the Equality for Peace and Democracy of Afghanistan, is hosting an Afghan civil society delegation, including 20 female Peace Leaders and Activists from 13 Afghan provinces to exchange views and share best practices on peacebuilding at the grassroots level.

In his remarks, the Ambassador discussed the contextual (war and peace) differences between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, with the former being a victim of an externally imposed conflict prosecuted by the Taliban, who enjoy safe havens, ideological indoctrination, as well as operational support in Afghanistan's immediate neighborhood.

He noted that as soon as the Taliban shed foreign influence and step forward to cease violence and enter direct peace talks with the Government of Afghanistan, the imposed war effectively end, paving the way for reaching a sustainable and dignified political settlement.

However, he pointed out that internal vulnerabilities--such as rife poverty, a "youth bulge," as well as a lack socioeconomic facilities and opportunities--continue to be exploited by external state actors to sponsor terrorism in Afghanistan, daily killing and maiming innocent civilians in Afghanistan.

Ambassador Haidari encouraged the Afghan Peace Leaders to make the best of their weeklong visit, both learning from and sharing their knowledge and experience with their Sri Lankan counterparts in and outside of Colombo.

He highlighted the agenda of the visit to be relevant and beneficial to the participants, encouraging them to see what lessons they can learn from Women's Movement in Sri Lanka and the role the Movement has played in conflict resolution and ongoing peacebuilding, reconciliation, and reintegration of former combatants and IDPs.

In conclusion, he took questions from the Peace Leaders and invited them to visit their Embassy for a reception upon the end of their weeklong visit. Ambassador Haidari thanked both the Afghan and Sri Lankan civil society organizations for working together to promote peace and women's empowerment, enabling Afghan women to fully participate in conflict resolution and the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

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Unofficial Translation

Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa,

The Prime Minister of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka:

On behalf of the Government and people of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, I would like to extend to you our sincere congratulations on your swearing-in as the new Prime Minister of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

Excellency,

I am pleased that the friendly relations and cooperation between our two countries—which encompass political, economic, cultural, education, health, science and technology areas—have strengthened. I have no doubt that under your leadership, our bilateral ties will further develop.

While appreciating the existing friendly relations between our two nations, the National Unity Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan looks forward to the further growth of our ties bilaterally, as well as within the framework of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

Availing myself of this opportunity, I wish you fine health and success, as well as progress and prosperity to the friendly people of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

Abdullah Abdullah

The Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Kabul – Afghanistan

November 21, 2019

Colombo: - On November 26, 2019, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari met with an Afghan civil society delegation, including Mr. Ahmad Murtaza Habibyar, who recently visited Sri Lanka to observe the conducting of the presidential elections on November 16, 2019 in the country. Mr. Habibyar said the preparatory work done by Sri Lanka's Election Commission--which Mr. Abdul Rizan Hameed represented in the meeting--was impressive and should be emulated.

Both sides told Ambassador Haidari that much potential for cooperation between the Election Commissions of the two countries exists, especially in learning and exchanging views on best practices. The Ambassador suggested that he meet with Chairman of the Election Commission in Sri Lanka to explore opportunities for bilateral cooperation. Both sides welcomed his suggestion, offering to support future exchanges.

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Unofficial Translation

Excellency Dinesh Gunawardena, M.P.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka:

I would like to extend to you my sincere congratulations on your appointment as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the beautiful country of Sri Lanka.

I strongly believe that following your appointment, relations between the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan would further strengthen and develop on a continual basis. Both of our countries as the member-states of the SAARC family share many commonalities in the region. Terrorism and extremism constitute major challenges facing the world, which have also posed a threat to and harmed our two nations. Hence, jointly fighting these menaces through human and protective security measures can help forge stronger bilateral ties between our two countries.

Once again, Excellency, I congratulate you on your new appointment and wish you

further success, as well as peace and prosperity to the friendly people of Sri Lanka.

Idrees Zaman

The Acting Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Kabul – Afghanistan

November 24, 2019

Colombo: - On behalf of the Government and people of Afghanistan, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari attended on November 22, 2019 the State-Lying-In Ceremony of the remains of the late Honorable Forrmer Prime Minister of Sri Lanka D. M. Jayaratne at the Parliament of Sri Lanka.

Ambassador Haidari signed the condolencebook, expressing the profound condolences of the Afghan Government and people to those of Sri Lanka, as well as to the family and loved ones of the late Former Prime Minister, who served his nation with utmost dedication and distinction.

May he rest in eternal peace!

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