Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari called on H.E. Minister and Presidential Counsel Tilak Marapana on July 15, 2019, and conveyed to him the warm regards of his Afghan counterpart H.E. Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani. They discussed a range of issues of bilateral interest, as well as his recent working visit to Kabul, as both sides are collaborating to expedite the implementation of bilateral MOUs and agreements in various areas of cooperation, including: economy; education; higher education; science and technology; employment of skilled labor; air services; sports; nurses capacity bulding; and cultural affairs, among others.
They also discussed the security situation in Afghanistan, as well as regional cooperation or a lack of it to help stabilize the country. Ambassador Haidari noted that HE President Ashraf Ghani was the first world leader to condemn strongly the April 21 terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, as Afghanistan firmly stands in solidarity with the friendly country, wishing it a speedy, full economic recovery.
In addition, they discussed the vast bilateral economic cooperation potential, including investment opportunities for the Afghan and Sri Lankan businesses in the two countries. HE Foreign Minister Marapana reminisced about his childhood memories of Afghan merchants, occasionally visiting Colombo, as Ambassador Haidari presented him with a small supply of Afghanistan' choicest saffron, one of our growing exports to the region and beyond. The Ambassador highlighted the high Afghan demand for the Sri Lankan tea, encouraging the Sri Lankan investors to move in to invest in this vast market given Afghans' daily consumption of large amounts of black and increasingly green tea.
Moreover, he highlighted the importance of lessons to be learned from Sri Lanka's counterinsurgency experience, as well as ongoing peace-building programs, including reconciliation and reintegration of fomrer combatants and internally displaced persons (IDPs), as Afghanistan has been seeking to end the imposed conflict through a negotiated political settlement.
Ambassador Haidari thanked the Government of Sri Lanka for the protection of Afghan refugees, a small group to be resettled out by UNHCR, as they are unable to return home voluntarily. They too took note of the status of a few Afghan inmates in Sri Lanka, who should be repatriated to Afghanistan once an exchange of prisoners agreement is to be signed soon.