Sri Lankan president visits Bangladesh, coastal shipping, visa waiver deal top agenda

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-13 20:17:10|Editor: Song Lifang
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by Naim-Ul-Karim

DHAKA, July 13 (Xinhua) -- The issue of coastal shipping will be among the key topics of discussion during a three-day visit to Bangladesh by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena who arrived here on Thursday morning.

Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid received his Sri Lankan counterpart after a Sri Lankan Airlines flight carrying Sirisena and his 73-member entourage comprising ministers, state ministers, deputy ministers and businessmen, landed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at about 11:25 a.m. local time.

Sirisena was given a 21-gun salute and a guard of honor by Bangladesh's armed forces at the airport's VIP terminal.

During his visit, he is scheduled to hold talks with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday which will be followed by signing of agreements.

The visit is expected to see signing of at least 10 bilateral agreements and memorandum of understanding (MoU) in various areas.

Deals are expected to be signed including coastal shipping, visa waiver of diplomatic and official passport holders and cooperation in agriculture, education, investment, information and communication technology, agreements between the two central banks, foreign service institutes, between Bangladesh's think-tank BIISS and Sri Lanka's LKIIRSS, and radio, TV and films.

Sources said Dhaka and Colombo are all set for signing the bilateral coastal shipping agreement for reducing tariff on each other's flag vessels.

The agreement is also aimed at increasing frequency of feeder services among the seaports of the two countries keeping the existing and potential maritime traffic in consideration.

Bangladeshi Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan earlier said they are keen to sign a deal with Sri Lanka on priority berthing and tariff concession at the Bangladesh's Chittagong and Sri Lanka's Colombo seaports.

He said the deal would also help the trade between the two South Asian countries get boosted.

Dhaka says the visit will bolster ties between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and create new avenues of further cooperation.

Bangladeshi State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam told journalists at a press conference here Sunday, "Our cordial relations with Sri Lanka will be further strengthened by Sirisena's first official visit to Bangladesh since he was elected president in January 2015."

He previously visited Bangladesh in 2013 and 2014 as the minister of health.

During the visit, he is also scheduled to meet Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid.

Sirisena will address an economic dialogue Saturday morning to be attended by Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan business representatives.

The leader will return home on Saturday.