Iranian leader to visit Sri Lanka after President Wickremesinghe’s invitation

Iranian leader Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi has accepted an invitation by his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe to visit the South Asian island nation in the near future, President’s media unit said.

Wickremesinghe met Raisi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Wednesday.

“The two leaders engaged in cordial discussions and Dr. Raisi accepted President Wickremesinghe’s invitation to visit Sri Lanka in the near future,” President’s Media Division (PMD) said in a statement.

If visits, Raisi will be the first Iranian leader to visit Sri Lanka after Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in April 2008. Analysts say the diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Iran have been intact despite a sanction by the United States deprived Sri Lanka of receiving cheap Iranian light crude since 2012.

Colombo has been in the process of repaying a $251 million due for crude imports before the sanctions via tea exports to Tehran. Sri Lanka inked a deal in December 2021 to set off export of tea to Iran against the legacy oil credit owed by state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation to the National Iranian Oil Company, without busting US sanctions.

When the foreign ministers of both countries met last month, both Iran and Sri Lanka agreed on the need to promote cooperation in trade and tourism as well as expanding cooperation in the scientific and cultural areas and in using their knowledge-based firms’ capacities.