Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa accepted an invitation from the Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu to visit in Japan in May 2020.
“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,” Motegi told President Rajapaksa when he met him with an eight-member high level delegation here on Friday. The Lankan President accepted the invitation.
Congratulating President Rajapaksa on his recent election victory, the Japanese Minister called Sri Lanka “a special friend of Japan”
In a press release, the Presidential spokesman Mohan Samaranayake said that at the talks, “Sri Lanka and Japan reaffirm their commitment to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in vital sectors of economic development and identified 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,” Samaranayake said.
The visiting Foreign Minister expressed Japan’s hope that continuous progress in bilateral relations would be made under President Rajapaksa’s leadership.
Motegi said that 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.
In his reply President Gotabaya 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.”
The Lankan President also said that he is open to foreign investments from all countries, especially 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 defense, security and stability are priority areas of regional cooperation.
In response President Gotabaya said “Indian Ocean must remain a zone of peace free of any conflict”.
However the Lankan President made it clear that “Sri Lanka does not want to get involved in rivalries among world powers. We seek friendship and reject domination by others”.
The Japanese Minister raised the issues of peace, stability and reconciliation among communities in Sri Lanka.
But the Lankan President said that this must move in tandem or in parallel with economic development.
“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”, Gotabaya said.
Earlier a delegation of Japanese officials had visited Sri Lanka to prepare the ground for talks with the Sri Lanka. The had prepared a meticulously drawn brief for the Foreign Minister with the Lankan President and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.
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.
Meeting With Lankan Foreign Minister
In his meeting with the Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, his Japanese counterpart Motegi Toshimitsu recalled vivid milestones of mutually rewarding relations, the two countries share. He assured the support of the Government of Japan to strengthen and diversify cooperation between the two countries towards the realization of the vision of the new Government.
Welcoming the visiting dignitary, Lankan Minister Gunawardena conveyed Sri Lanka’s sincere appreciation for the continued assistance and support extended by Japan for the country’s socio economic development and shared with the Minister the road map of the new Government to achieve security and prosperity to all Sri Lankans.
Minister Motegi stressed the importance of implementing the Japan funded-projects, and re-iterated that Japan will remain a steadfast supporter and contributor in Sri Lanka’s journey to achieve sustainable development and growth.
The two dignitaries discussed possible areas of cooperation across a broad spectrum of relations and agreed to explore ways and means to deepen partnership in many fields of common endeavor.
The visiting Minister, citing the importance of an official visit, extended an invitation to Foreign Minister Gunawardena to visit Japan in the near future.