Sri Lanka enters into
Friendship and Cooperation pact with Iran

Sri Lanka and Iran entered into a Friendship and Cooperation pact in Tehran on November 25 during the two day state visit by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.

Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar signed the Agreement on behalf of Sri Lanka, while the Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazzi signed on behalf of Iran, in the presence of the Presidents of the two countries.

A media release from the Office of the President said the MoU on Friendship and Cooperation is expected to expand political, economic, commercial and cultural relations between Sri Lanka and Iran, while promoting people to people contact between the two countries.

The MoU is also expected to take measured towards expanding cooperation in agricultural, scientific and technological spheres. Cooperation in areas of mutual economic interest such as maritime transport, telecommunications, media, culture and tourism will also be promoted under the MoU.

Direct contacts will be encouraged between universities, other institutions of higher education and research centres, especially in the fields of medicine, pharmaceuticals and the tea industry.

In keeping with the spirit of enhancing people to people contacts between the two countries, the MoU will encourage cooperation between Parliaments, academic institutions, civil society organizations and political parties.

The two countries also agreed to further promote mutual cooperation in regional and international organizations.

Sri Lanka and Iran also signed a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) which is expected to strengthen bilateral economic relations and also create an environment conducive for the further enhancement of relations between the two countries, as well as contribute towards the promotion of closer links with other economies in the region.

The PTA is expected to encourage diversification of products traded between the two countries at present and also increase the trade volume.

Under the PTA a Joint Committee will be established at the levels of Directors General which will meet initially within six months of the entry into force of the PTA, and set out the rules of procedure.

The annexes containing the list of items for tariff preferences to be granted by each country to the other and the rules of origin criteria will be finalised within 90 days.

A Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Environment which was also signed will address a wide range of environmental issues including management of solid wastes, safe disposal of recycling, treatment of industrial wastes, use of renewable energy, quality protection and integrated management of ecosystems, control and monitoring of air pollution, cooperation in protection of marine environment and coastal management, conservation of unique natural eco-systems - particularly wetlands and the conservation of wildlife and migratory species.

The MoU also allows for the exchange of experiences and closer cooperation between the two countries on international environmental issues including climate change, depletion of the ozone layer, loss of biodiversity and land degradation. Under the MoU, the two countries will hold regular consultations and bilateral negotiations in the relevant areas.

Meetings of experts, seminars and joint training programs will also be organised, while mutually agreed cooperation will be enhanced with the private sector and non-governmental organisations with regard to important programs and initiatives in environment and sustainable development.

The MoU for Health Cooperation was intended to create a general framework for cooperation between the health ministries of the two countries and create better cooperation in the fields of medicine, public health, human resources, drugs and medical equipment.

The MoU will extend to cooperation in the areas of medicine and medical equipment, medical education and research, human resources and health services.

The two countries also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on the Exemption of Visa for Diplomatic and Service/Official Passports.

This would allow holders of passports in these categories from Sri Lanka and Iran to enter the territory of the other without having to obtain prior visas.


President concludes two-day Iran visit

Iran's Defence Minister Admiral Ali Shamkhani called on President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga on Thursday evening at the Boostan Palace in Tehran.

Admiral Shamkhani said the Government of Iran is ready to support the Sri Lankan Government, if it was to make a request.

Associated with the President at the discussions were Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and Defence Secretary Cyril Herath, the Office of the President said yesterday in a press release.

Sri Lankan envoy in Tehran Ambassador Omar Kamil hosted a dinner in honour of the visiting President and her delegation at his official residence later in the evening.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Asia and Oceania Moshen Amin Zadeh was among the guests. At the conclusion of the two-day official visit the two governments issued a joint communique.

President Kumaratunga left Tehran yesterday on a special VVIP flight for Shiraz and Esfahan on a private visit.


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