|President returns after successful visit
|Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - 5.44 GMT
President Mahinda Rajapaksa returned to the island today (September 29) after successfully completing the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly held in New York, USA. He also chaired a very fruitful meeting with the US business community during the visit.
The President was received at the Bandaranaike International Airport by several cabinet ministers, members of parliament, Secretary to the President and other officials.
During the visit President Rajapaksa met with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Emir of Qatar His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Iranian President Mohamoud Ahmadinejad, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenburg, Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Gelding, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Portugal Prime Minister Jose Socrates and Hungarian President Pal Schmitt.
President Rajapaksa had a highly productive discussion with the UN Secretary General where he apprised the UNSG that the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) was fully transparent and was established on the principles of accountability in keeping with Sri Lanka’s own method of searching for the truth regarding a prolonged conflict, and identifying ways of preventing such conflicts in the future.
Addressing the UN General Assembly, President Rajapaksa stated that the entire focus of the nation is now on building a lasting peace; healing wounds, ensuring economic prosperity and guaranteeing the rights of the whole nation to live in harmony.
‘We are pursuing a nation-wide agenda of renewal. Sri Lanka has already returned over 90% of the internally displaced persons to their original villages that were previously riddled with landmines’, he further said.
Addressing the Millennium Development Goals session, the President stated that Sri Lanka has incorporated Millennium Development Goals key performance indicators in Sri Lanka’s national budget policies. He pointed out that as a result Sri Lanka has already attained or is on track to attain the MDGs, despite formidable odds, including the almost thirty years of a violent terrorist movement and the December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
The foundation was laid for a fresh relationship between Sri Lanka and Norway when President Mahinda Rajapaksa met with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenburg at bi-lateral discussions. The Norwegian Prime Minister observed it was very important that President Rajapaksa was engaging in both rebuilding the country and reconciliation among communities, and said that Norway was eager to play a supporting role in the emerging situation in Sri Lanka.
Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Under-Secretary General and Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children & Armed Conflict, said she was impressed and pleased with the current situation regarding children who had been forcibly drawn into the armed conflict by the LTTE at bilateral discussions with the President. She expressed satisfaction at the steps being taken to rehabilitate and provide both education and training to the children who had been caught in the conflict. She said that once the issue of four children who had so far been unaccounted for was resolved; the entire matter of child soldiers in Sri Lanka could be considered closed.
The further strengthening of bonds between Sri Lanka and Iran was the keynote of discussions between Iranian President Mohamoud Ahmadinejad and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. President Rajapaksa thanked the Iranian President for the assistance given to Sri Lanka by Iran, especially the concessionary terms for the sale of fuel, the upgrading of the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery and assistance for the Uma Oya Irrigation Project. The Iranian leader congratulated President Rajapaksa on his leadership in the successful defeat of terrorism, and the steps being taken to build peace in the country with reconciliation among all communities.
The Emir of Qatar had great admiration for the restoration of peace in Sri Lanka and the work already being done towards reconciliation and mutual trust among all communities and he responded favourably to a request by President Rajapaksa for Qatar to supply Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) to Sri Lanka for development needs.
The President held fruitful talks with the Malaysian Prime Minister where they discussed on seeking greater investment opportunities in Sri Lanka and other trade-related matters beneficial to both countries.
During other bilateral meetings, the Portugal Prime Minister stated that assistance will be provided to develop the tourism industry in Sri Lanka. The President also met the Hungarian President where they discussed matters of common interest to both countries, particularly the development of economic and cultural relations.