Ambassador Haidari and Foreign Minister Gunawardena Sign Historic MOU to Deepen Bilateral Relations

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Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena signed today a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Establishment of a Political Consultations Mechanism between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Henceforth, the two sides will hold regular political consultations at the most senior level of the two Ministries, discussing for further and longer-term cooperation matters of mutual interest relating to “the political, security, economic, culture, education, health, social, people-to-people relations, human resources development, and other issues.”

Following the historic signing of the landmark MOU, Ambassador Haidari and Foreign Minister Gunawardena delivered remarks, underscoring their Governments’ firm commitment to the further expansion of the growing Afghanistan-Sri Lanka bilateral ties. In this light, the Foreign Minister reiterated Sri Lanka’s consistent condemnation of the terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, calling for a peaceful resolution to end the deadly conflict that daily costs innocent lives.

“I wish to convey the sincere gratitude of Afghanistan’s leadership to the Government of Sri Lanka for your principled support of the Afghan peace process and His Excellency President Ghani’s tireless and results-driven efforts to end the imposed war in our beautiful country and to achieve sustainable and dignified peace as a top need and demand of every Afghan, said Ambassador Haidari.

Moreover, the Ambassador took note of the fact that although the global COVID19 pandemic had slowed the pace of international cooperation, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka had made steady progress in further deepening their bilateral relationship. He said this included the signing of a cooperation MOU between the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which the Afghan Embassy facilitated last September.

“Indeed, the strong friendship and partnership between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka rest on a solid foundation of mutual respect, understanding, and benefit. And this is underpinned by our cherished, shared heritage. The statues of Buddha in Afghanistan’s province of Bamiyan speak to the ancient civilizational bonds that tie the ‘Jewel of the Indian Ocean,’ Sri Lanka, and the ‘Heart of Asia,’ Afghanistan,” Ambassador Haidari remarked.

The Ambassador added that since he began his mission in Colombo two years ago, it has been one of his key goals to create and facilitate full-spectrum connectivity and cooperation between the treasured “Jewel of the Indian Ocean” and the “Heart of Asia.” “And it is in this spirit of fraternity and friendship with Sri Lanka that I am most delighted to have just signed with the Honorable Foreign Minister the MOU on the Establishment of a Political Consultations Mechanism between our two Ministries of Foreign Affairs today,” Ambassador noted.

Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colombage, Minister of State for Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasuriya, and other senior officials of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Relations were among the attendees at the historic signing ceremony.  

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Read the full statement by Ambassador Haidari below:

Remarks by H.E. Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari at the Signing Ceremony of the MOU on the Establishment of a Political Consultations Mechanism between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan and the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Sri Lanka, Colombo–Sri Lanka, April 7, 2021

The Honorable Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena,

Excellencies,

Media Friends,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Ayubowan and good evening!

At the outset, please allow me to convey the very warm greetings of my President, His Excellency Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, to His Excellency President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to the Honorable Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, as well as to the friendly people of Sri Lanka. And I too wish to extend the warm regards of Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister, His Excellency Mohammad Haneef Atmar, to the Honorable Foreign Minister Gunawardena.

Moreover, I wish to convey the sincere gratitude of Afghanistan’s leadership to the Government of Sri Lanka for your principled support of the Afghan peace process and His Excellency President Ghani’s tireless and results-driven efforts to end the imposed war in our beautiful country and to achieve sustainable and dignified peace as a top need and demand of every Afghan.

We also thank the Government of Sri Lanka for your consistent condemnation of terrorist attacks, which daily take innocent lives across Afghanistan. As we know from international experience, the resolution of the imposed conflict in Afghanistan needs regional consensus and sincere cooperation to deny terrorists the support, safe havens, and facilities that enable them to victimize the Afghan people and to destabilize our country with far-reaching implications for global stability.

We have no doubt that achieving genuine peace in Afghanistan will not only stabilize our region for enhanced economic cooperation but also ensure international peace and security, consistent with the United Nations Charter and resolutions.  

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Just about two weeks ago, the Honorable Foreign Minister and I met here at his office and took stock of our rapidly growing bilateral relations. In that meeting, we noted that although the global COVID19 pandemic has slowed down the pace of international cooperation, our two Ministries of Foreign Affairs have missed no opportunity over the past year to work together for further strengthening and deepening our multifaceted ties.

Indeed, the strong friendship and partnership between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka rest on a solid foundation of mutual respect, understanding, and benefit. And this is underpinned by our cherished, shared heritage. The statues of Buddha in Afghanistan’s province of Bamiyan speak to the ancient civilizational bonds that tie the “Jewel of the Indian Ocean,” Sri Lanka, and the “Heart of Asia,” Afghanistan.

Since I began my mission in Colombo two years ago, it has been one of my key goals to create and facilitate full-spectrum connectivity and cooperation between the treasured “Jewel of the Indian Ocean” and the “Heart of Asia.” And it is in this spirit of fraternity and friendship with Sri Lanka that I am most delighted to have just signed with the Honorable Foreign Minister the MOU on the Establishment of a Political Consultations Mechanism between our two Ministries of Foreign Affairs today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Political Consultations MOU follows the signing of nine others, including a cooperation MOU between the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment, which the Afghan Embassy facilitated this past September.

And with the signing of today’s MOU, both sides look forward to using the regular political consultations mechanism to discuss and facilitate—among other things—the signing of additional MOUs and Agreements in the pipeline. These are aimed at air connectivity, defense cooperation, trade promotion and protection, tourism facilitation, diplomatic visa waiver collaboration, as well as mutual legal assistance.

To that end, we look forward to the first meeting of our bilateral political consultations either physically or virtually. And I am confident that the Honorable Foreign Minister would continue supporting the hard teamwork of both sides, as he so kindly took time off his busy schedule these-days to facilitate and sign with me today’s historic MOU.

Indeed, today’s landmark event intends to further deepen our friendship and win-win cooperation in all areas of mutual interest and concern, which we will witness in the months and years ahead.

Thank you again, Mr. Minister, for your unwavering commitment to our ever-growing bilateral relations. And may I take this opportunity to wish you, the entire personnel of your esteemed Ministry, and all Sri Lankans a very Happy Sinhala and Tamil New Year next week.

“Soobha aloot awoo-roodak wewa! Stooti!”

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Related news-story: Ambassador Haidari and Foreign Minister Gunawardena Discuss the Afghan Peace Process and Achievements in Growing Bilateral Relations

Last modified on Wednesday, 07/04/2021

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