Sri Lanka, Iran sign six agreements

April 29th, 2008 - 12:40 pm ICT by admin  

Colombo, April 29 (Xinhua) The visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa witnessed the signing of six agreements between the two countries Monday night and vowed to push the relations to a new level, officials said Tuesday. The officials from the Sri Lankan presidential secretariat said among the major agreements were financial assistance for the expansion of the Sapugaskanda oil refinery and the Uma Oya project, Iran’s development assistance to Sri Lanka, and the establishment of a political consultation mechanism.

Addressing journalists after bilateral talks and the agreements signing ceremony, Ahmadinejad pointed out that comprehensive cooperation between the two countries would provide security for both.

“We are seeking justice and fair play in the world. Sri Lanka and Iran have agreed to cooperate in all spheres for the mutual benefit of each other,” said the Iranian president.

He said there had been a constructive dialogue for the betterment and economic prosperity of the two countries whose cooperation has been increasing, and has the capacity to increase further.

Rajapaksa thanked his Iranian counterpart for the economic aid.

“Especially the signing of the MoU for the Uma Oya project would be immensely beneficial for the rural poor of the Hambantota and Moneragala districts,” Rajapaksa said.

Ahmadinejad is due to meet Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka and Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama later Tuesday.

The main focus of his visit would be Tuesday’s inauguration of the Iranian funded $450-million Uma Oya irrigation project in Wellawaya in central Sri Lanka which will add 100 MW of power to the national grid.

The other major project due to be inaugurated Tuesday by him is the expansion of the Sapugaskanda refinery near Colombo which will make Sri Lanka self-sufficient in aviation fuel and bitumen.

The project envisages increasing the daily output capacity of 50,000 barrels to 150,000 barrels of refined oil.

Both projects are funded by Iran to the tune of over $1.9 billion, which was pledged during Rajapaksa’s state visit to Iran in November last year.

Ahmadinejad is scheduled to conclude his Sri Lankan tour later Tuesday and fly to India to continue his South Asia tour.

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