By Munza Mushtaq and Islamuddin Sajid
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka/ ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) - Pakistan on Monday extended an invitation to newly elected Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to visit the country.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who is visiting Colombo, handed over a formal invitation to Rajapaksa at the latter's office.
Qureshi arrived in Sri Lanka on Sunday night on a two-day official visit.
“During the presidency of Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, the ties between our countries were at a high level. Both our countries have always enjoyed excellent relations, and we have always helped each other,” he told reporters soon after his arrival, referring to the elder Rajapaksa brother.
In a meeting, the top diplomat discussed with the president matters related to bilateral relations and regional issues, a statement from Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said.
Rajapaksa said that rather than looking for financial assistance, efforts should be made to ensure continuous and enhanced growth in trade and investments on a mutually beneficial basis.
“Drug trafficking and addiction is a grave evil that my country is confronted with. We wish to seek Pakistan’s assistance to eradicate this menace,” he added.
The president also requested the government of Pakistan to help Sri Lanka in the fight against extremism.
The visiting diplomat also met with his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena to discuss matters pertaining to bilateral trade and investment.
Qureshi also drew attention during his discussion with Gunawardena to the serious situation and human rights crisis in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.
Incidentally, the Pakistani foreign minister's visit to Sri Lanka comes just days after Rajapaksa returned from an official visit to India, his first foreign visit since taking office.