Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari was the Chief Guest at the recent celebration of the Durga Puja Festival hosted by the Colombo Expats Cultural Association, on October 7, 2019. Expats and their families from Indiia, Nepal, Bangladesh, as well as local Tamils attended the event, whom the Ambassador briefly addressed.

Ambassador Haidari said Afghans take great pride in their fellow Hindu and Sikh compatriots, while noting the deep traditional bonds of friendship between Afghanistan and India. He also reminisced about his productive time in Delhi where he greatly enjoyed India's diverse cultural festivals.

He wished the Hindu expats and their families a delightful Durga Puja festival and asked them to contact this Embassy, if we could ever be of any consular and commercial services to them. The Association's leadership thanked the Ambassador.

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Colombo: - On September 30, 2019, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari signed the book of condolence at the French Embassy in Colombo, extending the profound condolences of the Afghan Government and people on the passing away of the late former President Jacques Chirac. 

The late Former President was a dedicated world leader and a committed of friend of Afghanistan. He made many hard efforts to help stabilize the country and to provide the people of Afghanistan with sustainable development assistance.  
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Colombo: - On September 18, 2019, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari met with Dr. Sudath Samaraweera, MD PhD, Director-General of the Sri Lankan National Cancer Control Program, to initiate collaboration with the Afghanistan Cancer Foundation (ACF), a vital initiative of First Lady Rula Ghani.

They discussed Afghanistan's acute need for prevention, early detection, treatment and palliative treatment of cancer, from which an increasing number of Afghans have died over the past 4 decades, thanks to the imposed conflicts. Dr. Samaraweera offered his full support for helping build the capacity of the ACF within his Program's means. Almost all Afghans, dying of cancer, go to India or Pakistan for last-minute treatment, which only wastes their loved ones' meager financial means, since private hospitals don't reject them outright.

For this dire situation to be addressed, Afghanistan needs to keep building our own capacity to prevent and treat cancer based on the world's best practices, which Ambassador Haidari told Dr. Samaraweera, requesting his long-term support tor the ACF.
 
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Colombo: - On September 17, 2019, four members of the Afghan Parliament--including the Honorables Sayed Mohammad, Azim Kabarzani, Halima Askari, Ruqia Nayel, Kamal Safi --recently participated in the 3rd Annual South Asia Parliamentarian Platform for Children to discuss the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

The Afghan MPs, representing different provincial constituencies, discussed the progress Afghansitan's made toward implementing the CRC, while highlighting the many challenges that confront Afghan children, including war and violence; rife poverty and its impact on the nutrition and education of children.

The Afghan MPs also met with the Honorable Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, who delivered the keynote address, highlighting some of the common opportunities at the regional level to implement CRC.

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Colombo: - On Septemebr 17, 2019, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari met with Sri Lankan Minister of State for Development and Environment Ajith Mannapperuma, following the opening of The 3rd Sub-Regional Workshop on the Global Water Management Goals towards Addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in South Asia. 

He was accompanied by two participants from the Afghan National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) , who reaffirmed Afghansitan's commitment to the adoption of recycling best practices and to end the tragic culture of "throwing away," which pollutes the environment.

Ambassador Haidari also met with Mr. Kazunobu Onogawa, Director of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) Center Collaborating with the UN Environment Program (NEP) on Environment Technologies (CCET), seeking his support for the South Asia Cooperative Environment Program (SACEP), which Afghanistan is a member-state of and which had organized the 2-day Sub-Regional Workshop.

Mr. Onogawa agreed to initiate collaboration with the Afghan National Environmental Protection Agency, helping it directly and indirectly with technical capacity-building aid, which Ambassador Haidari appreciated.
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Colombo: - On September 8, 2019, we hosted a tea reception for ten technical personnel of the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock of Afghanistan, following the completion of their 10-day training program hosted by the International Training Institute of Irrigation and Water Management of Sri Lanka.

First Secretary Razi Elham received the delegation and said: "HE President Ashraf Ghani's brought increased attention to the revitalization of the agriculture sector, emphasizing the importance of water management. When HE Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari met with the President before taking up his assignment in Colombo, he instructed him to see what lessons can be learned from Sri Lanka’s invaluable water management experience. That's why we're delighted to see today the beginning of what we hope will be a long-term exchange of technical cooperation between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan."

Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari looks forward to inviting the next group of qualified Afghan agricultural engineers to participate in the Institute's highly effective technical training programs.
 
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Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari represented Afghanistan in the 131st Meeting of the Consultative Committee of South Asia Cooperative Environment Program (SACEP). He welcomed the agendas of upcoming events organized by SACEP, promoting multilateral cooperation in the region to ensure protection of environment, whose degradation has a direct, adverse impact on all South Asia nations.

Ambassador Haidari highlighted the commitment of Afghanistan to the excellent work and initiatives of SACEP to address environmental concerns that underpin the growing transnational challenge of climate-change. Afghanistan's one of the most vulnerable countries to the adverse effects of climate-change -- adding to the impoverishment of its youthful population. This has already contributed to instability in the country, which's an example of how climate-change can directly fuel local conflcits driven by geopolitical tensions.

Ambassador Haidari highlighted the donation by Afghanistan to build the offices of SACEP, currently housed in a rental building, encouraging India and other member-states to make appropriate financial contributions to support the overall work of SACEP to promote protection of environment across and beyond the South Asia region.
 
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Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari is honored to have met the legendary former President of Sri Lanka Chandrika Kumaratunga, one of his role-model world leaders with a stellar public service record, on July 31, 2019. The former President is spearheading Sri Lanka's ongoing peacebuilding programs with a large number of beneficiaries--including children, youth, and adults of both genders--from the Tamil, Muslim, and Sinhalese communities.

The former President highlighted "Heal the Past, Build the Future" as one of her successdul reconciliation programs with lessons to be learned by Afghanistan. Moreover, they discussed the peace efforts of President Ashraf Ghani, as well as the need for direct talks with the Taliban.

President Kumaratunga pointed out her experience with the LTTE, often welcoming peace initiatives only to undermine them and continue fighting to kill and maim innocent civilians. Ambassador Haidari noted that the Afghan government is currently experiencing the same situation where the Taliban go around to meet about peace in different world capitals, while daily escalating violence across Afghanistan.

The former President kindly offered to invite over a delegation from the High Peace Council of Afghanistan to visit Sri Lanka for lessons to be learned from the country's peace process under her presidency (1994-2005), as well as current peacebuilding programs.

Read one of Ambassador Haidari's interviews on "The Afghan Peace Process" at the following link:
https://thediplomat.com/2018/05/the-afghan-peace-process-an-faq/

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Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari met Minister Reginald Cooray, Chairman & CEO of the Sri Lankan National Gem and Jewelry Authority, on July 31, 2019. They discussed bilateral cooperation opportunities in the gem and jewelry industry, as Afghanistan's endowed with such precious and semi-precious stones as emeralds, ruby, sapphires, lapis lazuli, tourmaline, aquamarine, kunzite, topaz, garnets, fluorite, as well as quartz.

Although Sri Lankan traders currently import small amounts of these Afghan stones, the potential to collaborate bothin investment through joint ventures and technical capacity-building in extraction, refining and cutting, as well as designing of precious stones to meet regional and global demand remains unexplored--which they discussed.

Read Ambassador Haidari's article on: "Minerals Can Secure Afghanistan's Future:" https://t.co/Ke7jzVbtYw

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Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari called on the new Director-General of South Asia and SAARC of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Aruni Ranaraja today, following his recent meetings with HE Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana and HE Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha. 

He congratulated the Ambassador on her new assignment and the Order of Sikatuna, which HE President of Philippines Rodrigo Duterte conferred on her for elevating bilateral relations between their countries. Ambassador Haidari noted that he looks forward to working with Ambassador Ranaraja in the same spirit, further deepening Afghanistan-Sri Lanka ties in various spheres of cooperation including: political, defense, economic and commercial, social development, as well as cultural affairs. 

They thoroughly discussed the implementation status of all bilateral agreements and MOUs, and welcomed consideration by both sides to waive visa for the Afghan and Sri Lankan holders of a diplomatic passport as another step to further strengthen bilateral relations. 

Ambassador Haidari pointed out the vast potential for people-to-people exchanges to be realized through business and investment, tourism, medical tourism, as well as education tourism -- on which both sides agreed to work harder in the coming months.

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