Pakistan seeks to expedite defence pact with Sri Lanka

August 1st, 2008 - 2:33 pm ICT by IANS  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, Aug 1 (IANS) Pakistan, a key arms supplier to Sri Lanka, has urged President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government to expedite the proposed “futuristic” bilateral defence cooperation agreement between the two countries. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is here in Colombo for the 15th SAARC summit and held bilateral talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart Rohitha Bogollagama, said Thursday that the proposed defence pact would further bolster defence ties between the two countries.

“Pakistan has already put forward to Sri Lanka the draft proposal for a (bilateral) Defence Cooperation Agreement. We want Sri Lanka to quickly move on that, because it would be a futuristic draft agreement to bring us closer,” Qureshi said.

He said Pakistan and Sri Lanka had traditionally enjoyed close friendly relations “based on mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in each other’s state”.

Claiming that Pakistan had been cooperating with Sri Lanka in its campaign against extremism and terrorism, Qureshi said his country had helped (militarily) Sri Lanka in difficult times in the past, as well as trained Sri Lankan army personnel and officers.

“It is a very satisfactory arrangement that we have now. Our current close military cooperation with Sri Lanka will certainly continue,” he said.

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