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Sri Lanka and Japan reaffirm their commitment to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in vital sectors of economic development and identify key areas of such cooperation. Information and communication technology (ICT), harbor infrastructure including Eastern Container Terminal (ECT), expressways, agriculture, digitalization of television transmission, disaster prevention and security cooperation are some of the areas identified.

This was stated when the visiting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan Motegi Toshimitsu called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat this morning (13). He was accompanied by an eight-member high level delegation.

Congratulating President Rajapaksa on his recent election victory, the Minister Toshimitsu called Sri Lanka “a special friend of Japan”. Extending an invitation to the President to visit Japan he said “we will be hosting an international conference titled ‘Friends of Asia’ which will be held in May next year. It would be an appropriate time for your visit to our country”. President Rajapaksa was in agreement.

The visiting Foreign Minister expressed Japan’s hope that continuous progress in bilateral relations would be made under President Rajapaksa’s leadership. “Japan wishes to set up a bilateral mechanism to oversee successful implementation of mutually agreed development projects. It will help to introduce high-tech Japanese companies to Sri Lanka”, Minister Toshimitsu said.

“Ours is a small economy. But we have a skilled, educated and talented workforce. My intention is to build an employment-oriented, technology driven economy. We seek Japan’s assistance to reach that goal”, President Rajapaksa stated. The President also said that he was open to foreign investments from all countries, especially the countries from the region such as China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and Singapore.

Dealing with regional cooperation, the Japanese Minister expressed his country’s commitment to the concept of free and open Indo – Pacific region. He also said that defence, security and stability were the priority areas of regional cooperation. In response President Rajapaksa said “Indian Ocean must remain a zone of peace free of any conflict”.

The President reiterating his stand in foreign relations observed “Sri Lanka does not want to get involved in rivalries among world powers. We seek friendship and reject domination by others”.

The Japanese Minister said that his country would stand for peace, stability and reconciliation among communities in Sri Lanka. “The political process of reconciliation must move forward together with overall economic development, infrastructure upgrading and raising the living standards of people especially in North and East”, President said in his remark.

Sugiyama Akira, Ambassador of Japan in Sri Lanka, Matano Motosoada, Executive Assistant to the Japanese Minister and Dr. P. B. Jayasundera, Secretary to the President were also present.