(Colombo, 11 – 15 August 2014)
Colombo: H. E. Mr. Arjun Bahadur Thapa, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is on an introductory visit to Sri Lanka from 11 – 15 August 2014.
During the visit, the Secretary-General called on H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, H. E. Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister for External Affairs and H.E. Mrs. Kshenuka D. Senewiratne, Foreign Secretary.
The Secretary-General apprised President Rajapaksa on the present situation of the activities of SAARC with special emphasis on the Eighteenth SAARC Summit which will be held from 22 to 27 November 2014 in Nepal. During the meeting President Rajapaksa proposed two specific initiatives to be considered by SAARC member states viz. organizing a Youth Forum to bring together youth in the South Asian region and a programme to develop a circuit that would promote connectivity among religious and cultural places of interest in the SAARC region. The discussion between President Rajapaksa and Secretary General also focused on the strengthening of economic cooperation in the South Asian region.
During the Secretary-General’s call on H. E. Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister for External Affairs, Prof. Peiris reiterated the importance of the proposals made by President Rajapaksa and expressed that SAARC would initiate action in the implementation of the proposals. Prof. Peiris informed the Secretary General that Sri Lanka would whole heartedly support the endeavours of SAARC and will continue to actively engage in the SAARC process. The Secretary General briefed the Hon. Minister of External Affairs on the current status of activities of SAARC and on the action being taken with regard to the forthcoming SAARC Summit. Prof. Peiris emphasized that SAARC should focus on key areas of cooperation which are of paramount importance to the region such as counter terrorism, food security and energy security, etc. so that SAARC could achieve tangible success. H E Prof. Peiris wished the SAARC Secretary General a very successful tenure and assured the support of the Government of Sri Lanka in his endeavours.
The Secretary General also met with H.E. Mrs. Kshenuka Senewiratne, Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka and exchanged views on cooperation in the SAARC. The Foreign Secretary hosted a luncheon in honour of the Secretary-General which was attended by Heads of Mission and other dignitaries of SAARC Missions based in Colombo and also senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs of Sri Lanka.
The Secretary-General was accompanied by his spouse, Mrs. Pabitra Thapa and Mr. W G S Prasanna, Director, SAARC Secretariat, during the visit.