Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan came to Sri Lanka for a two-day visit to meet with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa for talks on increasing trade and investment, the Foreign Office of Pakistan said.
On Tuesday, Khan arrived in the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, for his first visit to the island nation since taking office as Pakistani Prime Minister in 2018. At the airport, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa received him.
“The [Pakistani] prime minister will also lead the delegation-level talks, covering all areas of cooperation between the two countries including trade and investment, health and education, agriculture and science and technology, defence and security, and culture and tourism,” read a Pakistani curtain-raiser statement on the visit.
A statement from the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said the visit would feature “a business and investment forum, as well as an initiative for sports diplomacy.”
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Commerce Minister Abdul Razzaq Dawood and several other high-ranking officials will accompany Prime Minister Khan.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka have traditionally enjoyed warm relations during the latter stages of the Sri Lankan civil war, which lasted more than two decades, with particularly close military training cooperation.
One of the first world leaders to publicly congratulate President Rajapaksa on his landslide election victory two years ago was the Pakistani prime minister. The elder brother of the president, Mahinda, became prime minister several months later.
However, trade ties remain relatively limited, with bilateral trade of $359 million in the last fiscal year, according to Pakistani central bank data, the majority of which was exported to Sri Lanka by Pakistan.
Analysts say the economy of Sri Lanka remains heavily focused, rather than within the South Asian region, on trade ties with European nations and the United States.
As Rajapaksa and Khan seek to revive domestic economies that took serious hits due to the coronavirus pandemic, both countries will seek to increase those figures.