Rajapaksa cuts short Nepal visit, sends minister to Pakistan (Second Lead)

March 3rd, 2009 - 5:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, March 3 (IANS) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa cut short his three-day state visit to Nepal Tuesday after the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore and asked his Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama to proceed to Pakistan.

Bogollagama, who accompanied the 63-year-old president to Nepal, told the media Tuesday that the Sri Lankan delegation was returning to Colombo in view of the attack in Lahore city in which six players were injured and six Pakistani policemen were killed.

Condemning the shooting as cowardly, Bogollagama said Sri Lanka condemned all acts of terrorism.

The Sri Lankan embassy in Kathmandu told IANS that the government was awaiting reports from its mission in Pakistan to plan Bogollagama’s visit to Lahore to help bring the cricket team back home.

Rajapaksa, the first head of a foreign government to visit Nepal since 2002, when the Himalayan nation had hosted the 11th summit of the heads of the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation), axed his plan to visit the birthplace of the Buddha in Lumbini in southern Nepal Wednesday. He flies out of Nepal later Tuesday.

The president, who is under threat from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, arrived in Kathmandu Monday to inaugurate direct flights between Colombo and Kathmandu as part of a new air services agreement he inked with Nepal’s Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahala Prachanda.

Nepal’s government had arranged for unprecedented security with over 1,500 police and soldiers deployed to guard the presidential delegation.

Before winding up his visit, Rajapaksa, who is also accompanied by his wife Shiranthi, and Minister for Export Development and International Trade G.L. Peiris, Tuesday held talks with Prachanda and signed a second agreement to form a joint commission.

To be headed by the foreign ministers of both countries, the commission would enhance educational, cultural and agricultural cooperation.

Rajapaksa also visited the Anand Kutty monastery in Kathmandu’s Swayambhu area and the SAARC Secretariat in the capital. Sri Lanka is the current chair of the SAARC.

Rajapaksa attended a luncheon hosted by the prime minister at the renowned Yak and Yeti hotel in the capital, the embassy said.

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