Nepal and Bangladesh foreign ministers emphasize importance of regional cooperation

Foreign Ministers of Bangladesh and Nepal, Dr A.K. Abdul Momen and Dr Bimala Rai Paudyal respectively called on Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena at the Temple Trees during their visit to Sri Lanka to attend the 75th Independence Anniversary.

The two Ministers emphasize importance of regional cooperation in South Asia. They pointed out that the South Asian countries can learn from the experiences of each other and said the closer cooperation is hampered by the current deadlock in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

Nepal Foreign Minister Dr Paudyal referred to historic religious and cultural relations between the two countries and said air connectivity which is limited to Colombo and Kathmandu, should be expanded to include Gautham Buddha International Airport at Lumbini to facilitate large number of Buddhists visiting the Buddha’s birth place. She pointed out that Nepal could learn many things from Sri Lanka’s education and health systems and stressed the need for closer cooperation. Smaller countries in South Asia must stand together, she said.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen also emphasized the importance of further enhancing on-going sectoral collaboration between the two South Asian neighbours.

Prime Minister Gunawardena thanked the two ministers for their visit and said such high level exchanges would result in further strengthening of bilateral relations and regional cooperation. The discussions focused on trade facilitation, business and investment, cooperation in tourism and connectivity. They also discussed the future of SAARC and the appointing procedure of a new SAARC Secretary General when the current term of Mr Esala Weerakoon ends next month.

Secretary to the Prime Minister Anura Dissanayake, Senior officials of foreign ministries of Nepal and Bangladesh, Nepali Ambassador Bashu Dev Mishra and Bangladesh High Commissioner Tareq Md Ariful Islam also participated in the two discussions.