Colombo: - Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Haneef Atmar and Minister of Foreign Relations of Sri Lanka Dinesh Gunawardena held a friendly telephone conversation on June 24, 2020. They reviewed the status of growing Afghanistan-Sri Lanka relations and discussed a range of issues of mutual interest and concern. They especially took note of the ancient civilization ties, which underpin the Afghanistan-Sri Lanka friendship, and underscored the importance of building on the progress made since the establishment of direct diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2013. “Afghanistan is firmly committed to our strong bilateral relations with Sri Lanka, and we would like to see our ties further expanded and deepened based on our two countries’ shared foreign policy goals, including issues of security, peace, trade and investment, development and cultural cooperation, as well as collaboration in multilateral forums,” said Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari.
Moreover, to help ensure a region free from the threats of terrorism, extremism, and criminality, the Acting Foreign Minister highlighted the peace efforts of the Government of Afghanistan to reach a sustainable political settlement with the Taliban, while preserving the Islamic Republic as the key achievement of the Afghan people. He noted that success in these endeavors would not only end years of imposed war and violence in Afghanistan but would also help ensure regional stability as a precondition for the sustainable development of all South Asian nations.
Foreign Minister Gunawardena congratulated his Afghan counterpart on his ministerial appointment and reaffirmed the Government of Sri Lanka’s commitment to the further expansion of bilateral relations. In doing so, he pointed out the importance of implementing the signed MOUs and agreements, while highlighting others that have been initiated for bilateral signature, including a diplomatic visa waiver agreement. He also emphasized the importance of building further people-to-people ties through increased trade, cultural, educational, and scientific exchanges—which Acting Foreign Minister Atmar warmly welcomed. Moreover, both sides expressed solidarity with one another and offered to cooperate in the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic. On labor migration, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are member-states of the Colombo Process and Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD), which the two Foreign Ministers took note of and reaffirmed their commitment to further cooperation on all labor migration issues.
Foreign Minister Gunawardena extended an invitation to his Afghan counterpart to pay an official visit to Colombo for signing some of the pending MOUs and agreements, as soon as the COVID-19 conditions allowed. Acting Foreign Minister Atmar welcomed the invitation, as he also invited his counterpart to visit Kabul whenever his schedule allowed.
Afghanistan’s 62 years of bilateral relations with Sri Lanka began on November 1, 1958 when the two countries first initiated non-resident diplomatic ties. This was elevated in 2013 when the two countries opened diplomatic missions in Kabul and Colombo.