Iranian president to visit Sri Lanka

April 18th, 2008 - 2:42 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Gordon Brown
By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, April 18 (IANS) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to make a two-day state visit to Sri Lanka from April 28 on an invitation from President Mahinda Rajapaksa, a minister said Friday. “We are privileged to have him as this is his first Asian tour,” Deputy Foreign Minister Hussain Baila told IANS.

Among the projects to be launched by the Iranian president is the Uma Oya hydropower project at Wellawaya in Monaragala district, Baila said, adding Iran had agreed to grant $450 million for it.

The project has been estimated to produce 100 MW of electricity and supply water to agricultural and industrial sectors. “Iran is one of our best friends,” said Baila.

He said Presidents Rajapaksa and Ahmadinejad would also enter into an agreement for the Sapugaskanda oil refinery enhancing project.

The Iranian president’s visit comes at a time when US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown have said they are working to extend sanctions against Iran’s nuclear programme.

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