Air Chief Marshal Goonetilleke, Chief of Defence Staff Sri Lanka, called on President

Lahore: Air Chief Marshal W.D.R.M.J. Goonetilleke, Chief of Defence Staff Sri Lanka, called on President Asif Ali Zardari at Aiwan-e-Sadr today.

He was accompanied by Air Chief Marshal ® Jayalath Weerakkody, Sri Lankan High Commissioner, Maj Gen NJ Walgama and Gp Capt JA Nanayakkara.

Secretary General to the President Mr. M. Salman Faruqui, General Khalid Shameem Wyne, CJCSC, Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar and other senior officials were also present during the meeting from Pak side.

Pak-Sri Lankan bilateral relations, mutual cooperation especially in trade and defence areas, war against terrorism and regional situation was discussed during the meeting.

President Zardari said that Pakistan greatly valued its ties with Sri Lanka which are based on mutual trust, shared civilizational heritage, shared perceptions on host of issues and shared interest in maintaining regional peace, security and stability.

He said that Sri Lanka, being a gateway to billions of people, and Pakistan, with its unique geo-strategic location and huge potential, needed to forge a partnership to further strengthen the existing relationship and fight militancy.

Expressing satisfaction over security cooperation between the two countries, the President said that the challenge for the two countries was to translate their equation into economic terms for the benefit of the people.

He said that there was a need to increase the synergies of our economies and reinforce the institutional framework for enhancing trade between the two countries. He expressed hope that the recent JEC meeting and subsequent Technical Level meeting for Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement would lend impetus to the economic ties.

The President said that the two countries needed to join hands for achieving our shared objective and to make our region, a hub of economic prosperity and social development.

The President said that both the countries need to take advantage of each others’ expertise in various fields. He especially thanked the Sri Lankan Government for assisting Pakistan in combating Dengue fever in Punjab.

He said that Pakistan offered great opportunities for Sri Lanka to benefit in various fields such as light engineering, fresh fruits and vegetables, processed goods, textiles, cement, pharmaceuticals, and industrial chemicals.

The President said that the two countries were the worst sufferers of militancy and needed to join hands to fight it. He said that military muscle alone was not enough to permanently defeat extremism. We need to concentrate on socio-economic development of the people to contain such proclivities.

Air Chief Marshal Goonetilleke thanked the President for meeting and appreciated sacrifices made by Pakistani people in the war against militancy. He also appreciated Pak assistance to Sri Lanka in meeting its requirements.

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