Colombo: - On November 21, 2019, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari congratulated HE Mahinda Rajapaksa on being sworn as the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. We look forward to working with the Prime Minister to further expand our bilateral relations, which his presidency in 2013 helped elevate to direct diplomatic ties. The Prime Minister is a friend of the Afghan people, who he has admired for standing up against terrorism.

HE President Ashraf Ghani congratulated his new Sri Lankan counterpart, HE President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on his recent election, calling for stronger ties with Sri Lanka, in light of our shared interests.

Read Ambassador Haidari's write-up on HE President Ghani's congratulatory message to HE President Rajapaksa.

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 Unofficial Translation

 Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa

The New President of Sri Lanka:

On behalf of the Government and people of Afghanistan, please allow me to extend to Your Excellency my sincere congratulations on your recent election as the President of the friendly country of Sri Lanka. Your Excellency’s democratic election demonstrates the strong confidence of the people of Sri Lanka in your leadership, vision, and programs of action for the betterment of your nation and country.

Excellency,

Afghanistan and Sri Lanka have had notable achievements in developing friendly, bilateral relations. However, more potential exists to be realized in bolstering ties between our two nations. Indeed, our presence in a common region with many shared challenges and opportunities, which must be addressed and taken advantage of jointly, can help deepen our bilateral relationship.

To that end, while we remain satisfied with the pace of our bilateral cooperation, we look forward to working with the new Government of Sri Lanka to further expand our ties within the frameworks of bilateral and multilateral cooperation, including at the regional and international organizations levels.

I wish Your Excellency further success and fine health, as well as sustainable peace and prosperity for the friendly people of Sri Lanka.

Mohammad Ashraf Ghani

The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Kabul – Afghanistan

November 18, 2019

Colombo: - On November 18, 2019, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari represented the Government of Afghanistan in the inauguration ceremony of the newly elected President of Sri Lanka, HE Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in Anuradhapura. He conveyed to the President the congratulatory greetings of his Afghan counterpart, HE President Ashraf Ghani.

Afghanistan and Sri Lanka established direct diplomatic ties under the former President of Sri Lanka, HE Mahinda Rajapaksa, in 2013, since when our bilateral ties have continued to grow.

In this regard and on the way forward, read Ambassador Haidari's recent article on "Afghanistan and Sri Lanka: Natural Partners in Democracy and Development."

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Colombo: - On November 16, 2019, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari met with Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Commander of the Sri Lanka Army. They discussed terrorism, extremism, drug-trafficking, and human-trafficking as the key non-traditional security challenges that confront littoral and landlocked countries
such as Sri Lanka and Afghanistan alike.

In this light, they explored potential areas of bilateral cooperation, as Afghanistan looks forward to signing with Sri Lanka a bilateral MOU on Defense Cooperation.

In his early article in The National lnterest Magazine Magazine, Ambassador Haidari discusses how "Afghanistan's Stabilization Can Ensure Maritime Security" in the greater Indo-Pacific region.

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Colombo: - On November 16, 2019, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari met with Sri Lanka Navy Commander Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva, following his representation of Afghanistan in the recent Galle Dialogue 2019: International Maritime Conference, organized by the Sri Lanka Navy.

They discussed terrorism, extremism, drug-trafficking, and human-trafficking as the key non-traditional security challenges that confront littoral and landlocked countries such as Sri Lanka and Afghanistan alike. In this light, they explored potential areas of bilateral cooperation, as Afghanistan looks forward to signing with Sri Lanka a bilateral MOU on Defense Cooperation.

In his early article in The National lnterest Magazine, Ambassador Haidari discusses how "Afghanistan's Stabilization Can Ensure Maritime Security" in the greater Indo-Pacific region.

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Colombo: - The Azizi Bank of Afghanistan was presented with the Best Bank with Most Admired Service Award at the South Asian Partnership Summit and Business Excellence Awards 2019 in Colombo on November 15, 2019. 

Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari, who was a Guest of Honor at the event, received the Award on behalf of the Azizi Bank, whose delegation couldn't make it.

Over the past five years, the banking sector has seen continued reforms, under the leadership of President Ashraf Ghani. This process continues, as Afghanistan strives to achieve financial and economic self-reliance.

Congratulations to the Azizi Bank on the Award!

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Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari welcomed and joined an Afghan inter-ministerial delegation to participate in the 9th South Asian Regional Conference on International Humanitarian Law: A Narrative of Prevention and Protection.

Afghan delegates spoke on different panels to discuss issues of prevention and protection in Afghanistan's context where an externally imposed terror campaign daily violates the core principles of International Humanitarian Law.

Read one of Ambassador Haidari's early articles on this vital topic: "Afghanistan's Forgotten Humanitarian Crisis."

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Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari met with State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake on November 13, 2019. They discussed issues of bilateral interest with a focus on economic, security and cultural cooperation. They agreed that bilateral trade remained low and needs to increase in the coming year.

The Ambassador highlighted Afghan demand for medical tourism, higher education tourism, as well as tourism in Sri Lanka, while Sri Lankan demand for non-tropical fruits, dried nuts, quality handmade carpets and precious stones could be met by imports from Afghanistan.

Moreover, he discussed the security situation in Afghanistan, highlighting the intertwined regional and transnational security threats of terrorism, extremism and drugs. He noted that these threats must be addressed by the whole international community, as well as at the regional level.

In the coming year, Afghanistan looks forward to signing with Sri Lanka bilateral MOUs on political consultations and defense cooperation. This should help further expand bilateral relations between the two countries.

Read a recent article by Ambassador Haidari on Afghanistan-Sri Lanka growing relations

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Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari called on the Honorable State Minister of Defense and Minister of Mass Media Ruwan Wijewardene on November 5, 2019 to discuss the signing of a bilateral Defense Cooperation MOU in the near future.

The MOU to be signed by Afghanistan and SriLanka is based on the early meetings of the Ambassador with the civilian and military leadership of Sri Lanka on the many opportunities for bilateral security and defense cooperation, in light of the growing threats of terrorism, extremism and drug-trafficking, which transcend national borders. These same threats constitute maritime security
challenges that confront and concern Sri Lanka and others in the Indian Ocean region.

Ambassador Haidari also highlighted the importance of learning lessons from Sri Lanka's reintegration of its former combatants, following their defeat of terrorism in 2009. Also, bilateral training opportunities for the armed forces of the two countries were discussed, including participation of Afghan officers in the Defense Services Command and Staff College of Sri Lanka.

Read Ambassador Haidari's recent article on "Afghanistan and Sri Lanka: A Growing Partnership."

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Colombo: Director-General of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) Heral Senadheera Gamachchige along with Media Consultant Gotabaya Sumanasekara called on Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari on October 30, 2019 to discuss development of bilateral media relations between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. 

The Ambassador thanked Director Senadheera for the opportunity to speak on one of their prime radio shows recently, directly connecting with the Sri Lankan public to discuss issues of interest and concern to them. Ambassador Haidari noted the importance of public diplomacy as an effective way to build and deepen people-to-people ties between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

They agreed for Ambassador Haidari to speak on other popular shows, introducing the new Afghansitan to the people of Sri Lanka with much curiosity to learn about other cultures and countries.

Read Ambassador Haidari's recent article in the Sunday Observer on "Sri Lanka and Afghanistan: A Growing Partnership." 

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