Roundup: China, Sri Lanka vow to strengthen close ties

Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan successfully concluded his official visit to Sri Lanka on Thursday, with both sides committed to pushing forward all-round and cooperative partnership.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse held talks with Tang on Wednesday, covering an in-depth exchange of views on all aspects of China-Sri Lanka relations and on regional and international issues of common concern.

During their talks, Rajapakse said that the two countries enjoyed long-term friendliness and Sri Lanka's new government will continue to carry out friendly policy toward China and dedicate to the all-round cooperation.

Rajapakse welcomed the visit of the state councilor as a re- affirmation of the close and friendly relations between the two countries.

Tang said that the Chinese government will continue to further develop all-round cooperation with the Sri Lankan government in the fields of mutual interest.

Rajapakse thanked the Chinese government for its sincere help to Sri Lankan in a long period, especially after the country was hit by the tsunami in 2004.

He hoped that the two countries would expand cooperation in such fields as trade, investment, infrastructure, energy and tourism.

Tang said that the two sides should fully implement the Hambantota Port Development Project, Norochcholai Coal Power Project and other large-scale cooperative programs already agreed by the two sides.

He said that China will repair Sri Lanka's fishery docks damaged by the tsunami at a faster speed, adding that China will provide assistance to Sri Lanka for the 10th South Asian Games.

Rajapakse stressed that the Sri Lankan government firmly pursues the one-China policy and opposes secession activities of whatever form.

He said that Sri Lanka will continue to support China on the Tibet issue.

Tang said China welcomed the resumption of peace talks between the Sri Lankan government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

He hoped the peace process would continue and the political negotiation would lead to the peaceful solution of the country's ethnic issue, resulting in the improvement of its economy.

Rajapakse expressed gratitude to Tang for the Chinese government's support to Sri Lanka's efforts in safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The two sides agreed to strengthen coordination and cooperation on the international and regional affairs. They also expressed their support to the view that the next post of the Secretary General of the United Nations should come from an Asia country.

Rajapakse expressed satisfaction in the context of abiding friendship that a milestone in bilateral relations will be reached when the establishment of diplomatic relations completes 50 years in February 2007.

It was agreed to hold a series of events in both countries to celebrate this important occasion.

The discussion also covered other areas of cooperation such as petroleum resources development, mutual promotion of tourism, cooperation in the aviation sector.

After the discussion, Rajapakse and Tang took part in the signing ceremony of three agreements between the two sides.

Two agreements were signed for two grants for the technical and economic cooperation to develop the country's economy and sports equipment and fireworks to help Sri Lanka hold the 10th South Asian Games.

The contract for Norochcholai Coal Power Project between the Chinese Natioal Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation and the Sri Lankan Electricity Board (CEB) was also signed and work on this project will commence shortly.

"We hope to complete the first phase of the project by 2010 aiming to generate electricity at a lower cost," Deputy Minister of Power Aluthgamage told the media following the signing.

The completion of the project aims at lessening losses incurred by the CEB due to selling electricity at lower price against production cost, he said.

The construction of the coal fired power plant is expected to contribute to the 8 percent economic growth target set by the government.

Tang also met Karu Jayasuriya, deputy chairman of Sri Lanka's major opposition United National Party on Wednesday afternoon.

Tang arrived in Sri Lankan capital Colombo on Tuesday to pay an official visit to the island country and left here on Thursday morning for Nepal to continue his South Asian trip.

Source: Xinhua

People's Daily Online ---