Economic, educational collaboration, to figure in Zardari - Rajapaksa talks
Pakistani President due in Colombo at months end

by Zacki Jabbar

Economic and educational collaboration would dominate Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, scheduled for later this month in Colombo, government sources said.

They said that Zardari, who will be making his maiden visit to Sri Lanka,would be accompanied by a near 30-member delegation,which would include the country’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and representatives of the trade,industry, tourism and educational sectors.

Bilateral trade between the two countries has doubled from US$ 150 million to US$ 300 million, since the Free Trade Agreement became operational in 2005.

A 27-member Pakistan-Sri Lanka Business Forum delegation visited Colombo recently and participated in the INTRAD-EXPO 2010 and an investment conference organised by the National Chamber of Commerce.

Among the sectors the delegation represented were textiles, fertilizer, sugar industry, service industry, IT, fresh fruits and vegetables, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, leisure and tourism, construction, light engineering goods, rice, apparel, gems and jewellery, sports goods and commodities sectors.

A recent MoU that was signed between Sri Lanka and Pakistan to co-operate on Tourism and Archeology, was expected to open a new window of opportunity for both countries and also build on the momentum generated by the FTA, the sources said.

Various proposals were discussed including the development of tourist tariff, promotion of tourism, training and exchange of experiences, investment in the tourism sector and the preservation and exchange of experiences in archaeological heritages.

Sri Lanka and Pakistan are also exploring the possibility of increasing air links to facilitate tourism and business. The emphasis was on translating policies into action and facilitating the participation of the private sector to realise the goals of the MoU.

The sources said that over 35 delegates from around 13 countries including Sri Lanka, are scheduled to participate in a policy dialogue organised by the Pakistan Higher Education Commission, to be held in Islamabad from November 23 to 25.

"The aim of the symposium is to share knowledge and expertise. It would explore ways in which the academia, policymakers and industrialists can work together to encourage knowledge transfer and support development within the higher education sector. The list of participants from each country would include one from each sector of academics, policymaking and industries," the source said

Among the countries due to participate are India,United Kingdom, Iran,Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Nepal and Turkey,the, sources said.

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