| A statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, Colombo
|Vietnam President Truong Tan Sang (L) shakes hands with Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa during their meeting in Colombo October 14, 2011. Sang on a three day official visit to Sri Lanka. – REUTERS IMAGES|
(October 15, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) On the invitation of His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka, His Excellency Truong Tan Sang, President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam arrived on the evening of October 13th 2011 at the Bandaranaike International Airport, accompanied by First Lady Madam Mai Thi Hanh, commencing a 3 – day historic State Visit as the first head of state of Viet Nam to visit Sri Lanka. The Vietnamese President’s 145 – member delegation included Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Finance Minister, H.E. Vuong Dinh Hue, deputy ministers, senior officials and nearly 60 prominent business leaders. Upon arrival, President Truong Tan Sang and the First Lady Madam Mai Thi Hanh were greeted by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and First Lady, Madam Shiranthi Rajapaksa and were conducted to the Saluting Dais in a procession by a group of traditional dancers and drummers. The visiting head of state was accorded a ceremonial welcome that included a guard of honour by the Sri Lanka Navy followed by a 21 gun salute. The National Anthems of Sri Lanka and Viet Nam were played followed by the introduction of respective delegations by the two heads of states. President Rajapaksa was accompanied by Acting Minister of External Affairs, Hon. Neomal Perera, Cabinet Ministers Hon. Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Hon. John Seneviratne, Hon. Felix Perera and Hon. Johnston Fernando, Western Province Governor, Hon. Alavi Mowlana, Chief Minister of Western Province, Hon. Prasanna Ranatunga, Deputy Ministers Hon. Sarath Guneratna and Hon. Priyankara Jayaratne, Parliamentarians Hon. Sajin de Vass Gunawardena and Hon. Sudarshani Fernandopulle, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Viet Nam, H.E. Dr Ivan Amarasinghe, members of the Diplomatic Corps, Secretary to the President, Mr Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary, Ministry of Finance & Economic Development, Dr P.B. Jayasundera, Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Mr Karunatilaka Amunugama, Chief of Defence Staff, three Service Commanders, Inspector General of Police together with senior officials. The Vietnamese President and Madam left for Colombo by a special motorcade accompanied by Minister in Attendance, Hon Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Minister of Agriculture and Lady in Waiting, Madam Nelum Lalana Abeywardena.
Sri Lanka and Viet Nam established formal diplomatic relations in 1970 which were based on long standing relations between the two countries including Sri Lanka’s support of Viet Nam during its turbulent years of independence and unification. Since the establishment of Sri Lanka’s Embassy in Hanoi in 2003, under the guidance of then Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, relations between the two nations have been thriving. These relations were further cemented by the State Visit of President Rajapaksa to Viet Nam in October 2009. Viet Nam has been a staunch supporter in Sri Lanka’s fight against terrorism and defended Sri Lanka’s interests in multilateral fora including the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council.
President of Viet Nam began his official schedule on 14th October morning by offering floral tributes to the Ranaviru Monument at the Parliamentary grounds in Sri Jayawardenapura, Kotte.
Later that morning, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had in depth discussions with President of Viet Nam, Truong Tan Sang on bilateral relations and matters of mutual interest. President Rajapaksa was joined in the discussions by Minister of External Affairs, Hon. Prof G.L. Peiris, Senior Minister of International Monetary Cooperation, Hon. Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Minister of Petroleum Industries, Hon. Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resource Development, Hon. Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Industry & Commerce, Hon. Rishard Bathiyudeen, Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Minister of Culture & the Arts, Hon. T.B. Ekanayake, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Hon. Nandimithra Ekanayake, Hon. Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, Secretary to the President, Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary, Ministry of Finance & Economic Development, Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Mr K. Amunugama, Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Gamini Senarath, while the Vietnamese President was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Minister of Finance, H.E. Vuong Dinh Hue, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Doan Xuan Hung, Deputy Minister of National Defence, H.E. Nguyen Chi Vinh, Deputy Minister of Public Security, H.E. Le Quy Vuong, Deputy Minister of Industry & Trade, H.E. Le Duong Quang, Deputy Minister of Planning & Investment, H.E. Nguyen Van Trung, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports & Tourism, H.E. Huynh Vinh Ai, Deputy Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, H.E. Bui Ba Bong, Deputy Minister of Science & Technology, H.E. Nguyen Van Lang and the Vietnamese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, H.E. Ton Sinh Thanh,
The discussions were conducted in an extremely warm, cordial and friendly atmosphere reflecting mutual esteem and respect as well as the prevailing favorable course of Sri Lanka – Viet Nam relations at present. At the outset, the two Presidents exchanged greetings and noted action taken by both sides in recent years to enhance bilateral relations at all levels. President Rajapaksa congratulated President Truong Tan Sang on the rapid socio – economic progress made by Viet Nam and her people under his steadfast leadership. While reciprocating the sentiments, Vietnamese President extended his appreciation to President Rajapaksa for the warm welcome and generous hospitality afforded to the Vietnamese delegation and lauded President Rajapaksa’s vision in ushering his country a new era of peace, stability and economic prosperity. The two Presidents noted with satisfaction that bilateral relations in the political, economic, cultural and other fields have developed and diversified in recent years and reiterated their commitment to the furtherance of such mutually beneficial ties in the years to come.
President Rajapaksa briefed his Vietnamese counterpart on the action taken by the Government to expedite reconstruction of areas affected by the conflict and development of infrastructure, livelihood and socio – economic standards of the people in the North and East of the country. Elaborating further, he emphasized the Government’s long term commitment towards ushering lasting peace and ethnic harmony among all ethnic communities in the country through a political framework acceptable to all parties. He further opined that the international community could take advantage of the post – war opportunities in the investment, tourism, infrastructure, hospitality and other potential sectors and become stakeholders in Sri Lanka’s development process. While appreciating the Viet Nam’s unwavering support for Sri Lanka’s fight against terrorism as well as its role in defending Sri Lanka’s interest at multilateral fora in recent years, President Rajapaksa recalled the support extended by Sri Lanka to Viet Nam during its campaign for unification and independence.
Vietnamese President on his part reiterated Viet Nam’s firm resolve to support Sri Lanka in pursuit of its economic goals and stability. He also praised President Rajapaksa for the decisive victory against terrorism and said Sri Lankans could be proud of their achievements in all sphere of activity over the last 2 years. It was also noted that peoples of Viet Nam and Sri Lanka have so much in common with shared perceptions and interests from a historical and contemporary perspective as members of the Asian community in particular and that of the United Nations at large.
Both Presidents agreed that Sri Lanka and Viet Nam could continue to play a proactive and constructive role in the regional and multilateral fora toward safeguarding their shared values and common objectives as emerging economies in Asia.
At the conclusion of discussions, a total of 8 Memoranda of Understanding ( MoUs ) were signed aimed at promoting cooperation in a variety of sectors such as political, defence, finance, industry & trade, investment, education, petroleum etc. The two sides expressed hope that the signing of such mutually beneficial instruments would help further deepen the understanding and collaboration between the two countries in multifaceted fields of opportunities. It was noted that the commitments made by Vietnamese side in regard to providing expertise and technical knowhow in the petroleum sector would benefit Sri Lanka in maximizing its efforts toward the exploitation of commercial interests.
Vietnamese President, Truong Tan Sang declared open the Vietnam – Sri Lanka Business Forum that same afternoon jointly organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the National Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs of Sri Lanka and the Vietnamese Embassy in Colombo. The Deputy Prime Minister of Viet Nam, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Minister of External Affairs, Prof G.L. Peiris along with Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Dr Anura Ekanayake, Chairman of the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka, Mr Asoka Hettigoda, Chairman of Sri Lanka – Viet Nam Business Council, Mr Anton Godfrey along with Deputy Chairman of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Mr Hoang Van Dung attended the occasion at which over 57 leading Vietnamese business leaders were present amongst a large gathering of Sri Lankan business community. Delivering the key note speech, the Deputy Prime Minister of Viet Nam emphasized the importance of maximizing collaboration between the two countries in promoting economic and commercial interests including opportunities for greater cooperation in trade, investment, tourism and other potential sectors of interest. Furthermore, the Vietnamese Deputy Premier invited the business entrepreneurs from both sides to use all possible means at their disposal to establish business linkages and become catalysts to spur trade and economies between the two countries. He also expressed Viet Nam’s interest in exploring investment opportunities in potential sectors and thereby contribute toward Sri Lanka’s post war development priorities. Elaborating further, he invited the Vietnamese business community to take advantage of Sri Lanka’s favourable climate in pursuing economic interests through government and private sector initiatives.
Minister of External Affairs, Prof Peiris, speaking on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka highlighted the prospects available for both Sri Lankan and Vietnamese Governments as well as the private sector entities to embark on commercial undertakings in either country under the MoUs concluded between the two sides. In particular, he urged the Vietnamese leaders and business community to make use of the preferential terms and benefits available to the entrepreneurs from Sri Lanka and Viet Nam as provided for in the relevant Agreements and MoUs. The Minister also briefed the Vietnamese side on the mutually rewarding opportunities available in the North and East in an array of sectors. The Chairpersons of the respective Sri Lankan and Vietnamese Business Chambers made presentations on investments and trade opportunities in Sri Lanka as well as in Viet Nam for mutual benefit. The Forum was followed by an interactive session between the two business delegations.
The Minister of External Affairs, Prof. G.L Peiris called on the Vietnamese President in the afternoon. Later in the evening, President Rajapaksa hosted his Vietnamese counterpart to a State Banquet.
As a commitment made to President Rajapaksa during his state visit in 2009, the Vietnamese Government re-established its Embassy in Sri Lanka in early 2011. President Truong Tan Sang ceremonially opened the Embassy this morning ( 15th October ) along with Prime Minister, Hon D.M Jayaratne who was the chief guest for the event.
The Vietnamese leader also took off time from his busy schedule to visit the Gems & Jewellery Authority this morning prior to his departure from Sri Lanka in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Vietnamese First Lady, Madam Mai Thi Hanh on 14th October paid a courtesy call on the Chief Prelate of the Malwatta Chapter, Most Venerable Thibbotuwawe Sri Sumangala Maha Nayake Thero and later paid respects to the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy. In the afternoon First Lady, Madam Mai Thi Hanh visited the Carlton Pre School Network Headquarters in Colombo on the invitation of First Lady, Madam Shiranthi Rajapaksa followed by a tour of the National Crafts Council in Battaramulla.
The State Visit of the President of Viet Nam, His Excellency Truong Tan Sang to Sri Lanka marked a new chapter in Sri Lanka – Viet Nam bilateral relations and would pave the way for renewed friendship and further consolidation of mutually beneficial ties between the two countries.
Here is full text of Joint communique between two countries;
1. At the invitation of His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, His Excellency Truong Tan Sang, President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam and his spouse paid a State Visit to Sri Lanka from 13th to 15th October 2011.
2. President Truong Tan Sang was accorded a ceremonial welcome on arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport on 13th October 2011. During the visit, President Truong Tan Sang had official talks with the President of Sri Lanka, who hosted a banquet in his honour; met with Prime Minister Hon D M Jayaratne, Minister of External Affairs Hon. Prof G L Peiris, Senior Minister of Human Resources Hon. D E W Gunasekera in his capacity as the Leader of the Sri Lanka – Viet Nam Solidarity Movement; together with Prime Minister Hon. D M Jayaratne, declared open the Embassy of Viet Nam in Colombo, and offered a floral tribute to the Ranaviru (war heroes) monument at the Parliament grounds. President Truong Tan Sang also inaugurated the Sri Lanka – Viet Nam Business Forum, which was attended by the representatives of the business circle of the two countries together with high-ranking officials of the two governments.
3. The official discussions between the two sides were marked by friendship, mutual respect and understanding. Both sides briefed each other on the political and economic development of the countries respectively and exchanged views on the cooperation between the two countries. President Rajapaksa expressed his admiration of the courage of the people of Viet Nam in their efforts in defending national independence and achieving national re-unification and congratulated Viet Nam on the success of the 11th Congress of the Communist Party of Viet Nam and elections to the 13th National Assembly. He also congratulated the President of Viet Nam on his recent appointment to the highest office.
4. President Truong Tan Sang felicitated President Rajapaksa on the decisive defeat of terrorism in Sri Lanka, after many years of conflict, and reaffirmed his support for preserving the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka. He extended his country’s assistance in the efforts taken by President of Sri Lanka to build a peaceful and prosperous nation unifying all ethnic communities including in the reconstruction efforts. The President of Viet Nam also congratulated President Rajapaksa on the decisive victories in the Presidential and Parliamentary elections in 2010 and the local government elections in 2011 and recognized the policy proposals enshrined in the “Mahinda Chinthana” for the development of Sri Lanka.
5. The two leaders noted with satisfaction that bilateral relations have matured and diversified with the passage of time for over 40 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1970, encompassing key areas of contemporary relevance. They also welcomed the mechanism established for inter-parliamentary cooperation and encouraged further interactions between Parliamentarians of the two countries and agreed to increase the frequency of high level visits in further consolidating bilateral relations.
6. In consonance with their vision of the future of Sri Lanka – Viet Nam relations, the two leaders agreed that there is much scope to increase cooperation and to further harness the enormous potential available for consolidating and strengthening the bilateral partnership by building on shared values, leveraging common concerns and interests, enhancing connectivity between the two countries, increasing synergies of their economies and, reinforcing the institutional framework for cooperation. To this end, the two leaders agreed that the next meeting of the Joint Commission will be held at an early time in Viet Nam in order to devise a fuller agenda of bilateral cooperation in various fields.
7. Both sides agreed to promote a dialogue on security and defence issues relevant to their bilateral relationship, including through high-level contacts between Defence Forces and the training of defense personnel.
8. The two leaders witnessed the signing of Memorandum of Understanding on the Bilateral Political Consultations between the two Foreign Ministries, Memorandum of Understanding on the Machinery Manufacturing Cooperation, Memorandum of Understanding on Two Way Investment Promotion Cooperation, Agreement on Educational Cooperation for the years 2011-2015, Memorandum of Understanding on Finance Cooperation, Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation, Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Petroleum sector and the Term Gasoil Sales Agreement. They directed that the provisions of the MoUs should be utilized to build a strong bilateral programme of cooperation including the facilitation of technological know-how in the related fields.
9. The two sides acknowledged that the State Visit by President Rajapaksa to Viet Nam in 2009 has set a conducive platform for expanded economic cooperation and trade that would lead to the common progress and prosperity of the two countries and that bilateral economic cooperation and trade should be further strengthened by fully tapping potential and seeking new ways on the basis of the current cooperation. In this context, the two leaders agreed to strive towards achieving a trade turnover of US$ one billion in the coming years.
10. Both parties agreed that the two countries would undertake measures for trade facilitation including identification and removal of non-tariff barriers and simplification and harmonization of mutually recognized standards. Both sides also agreed to diversify the basket of goods and look for innovative ways to add fresh impetus to trade and commercial relations including through the establishment of joint ventures in enhancing export opportunities for both countries. They agreed to direct the officials of the two countries to explore the possibility of commencing talks on a Preferential Trading Arrangement between Sri Lanka and Viet Nam.
11. The President of Viet Nam was apprised of the Greater Hambantota Development Project and Sri Lanka’s desire to develop as a port and aviation hub in South Asia. President Rajapaksa welcomed investments of Viet Nam in the telecommunication services and equipment, IT and the hospitality sector and invited the business sector of Viet Nam to seek out new investment opportunities available in Sri Lanka following the end of conflict. It was noted that the Agreements signed on Investment Promotion and Protection in 2009 would contribute further in providing for an enhanced investment regime between the two countries. The two sides indicated keen interest in developing comprehensive cooperation in the energy sector including the exploitation and exploration, sharing of technological know-how and experiences.
12. The two leaders agreed that there was great potential for the further and rapid expansion of bilateral agriculture cooperation, fisheries and aquaculture development and collaboration in livestock development. To these ends the two sides agreed to build a strong bilateral programme of partnership in the agriculture and fisheries sectors, including in food processing and post harvest technology and fish processing.
13. Recognizing the immense potential that exists in the two countries to tap human resources as a modality toward economic and social advancement, the two leaders agreed that bilateral links on education cooperation should be enhanced. With a view to further strengthening friendly relations and promoting cultural exchanges between the two countries, the two leaders resolved to encourage visits of artistic delegations, promote works of literature and art in sharing each other’s cultural achievements and experiences and also to promote closer cooperation in youth exchanges.
14. The two leaders agreed to encourage and facilitate individual and group travel for identified places of tourist attractions including Buddhist religious sites in both countries. Exchange of expertise and the grant of technical assistance were other areas that were focused upon. In this context the two leaders requested officials to work together in creating favorable conditions for each other’s travel agents to further develop tourism relations between the two countries and devise an Action Plan for Cooperation based on the Tourism MoU concluded in 1994.
15. Both sides noted with interest the necessity for establishing air connectivity between the two countries to avail of the potential for greater cooperation in the tourism sector and the promotion of people to people interactions. To this end, the two leaders recognized the commencement of talks on Bilateral Air Services Agreement between the two countries and directed their respective civil aviation authorities to conclude negotiations early with a view to signing same.
16. The two leaders also exchanged views on a number of regional and multilateral issues and agreed to continue to work together for mutual benefit of the two countries based on the principle of non- interference. The two sides strongly condemned terrorism in all forms and expressed their determination to intensify cooperation in the common efforts of the international community in preventing this menace comprehensively. President Rajapaksa thanked the President and the Government of Viet Nam for their steadfast support given for Sri Lanka’s fight against terrorism, in the multilateral fora.
17. The two sides agreed to further strengthen cooperation between the two countries in the regional and international for a, particularly in ARF, UN, WTO, the Non-aligned Movement and the South-South Cooperation. President Mahinda Rajapaksa congratulated Viet Nam on the successful conclusion of the Chairmanship in ASEAN in 2010 and valued the role played by Viet Nam as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the period 2008-2009. Sri Lanka recognized Viet Nam as full market economy status and supported Viet Nam’s candidature for the UN Human Rights Council for the year 2013 – 2016.
18. The First Lady of Viet Nam during her stay in Sri Lanka associated herself with the social development programme, particularly in respect of women and children, spearheaded by the First Lady of Sri Lanka.
19. President Truong Tan Sang invited President Mahinda Rajapaksa to pay a State Visit to Viet Nam at a mutually convenient time. The invitation was accepted with appreciation.
20. Both leaders expressed their satisfaction at the outcome of the State visit by the President of Viet Nam to Sri Lanka, which provided further testimony of the continuing excellent relations between the two countries.
21. President Truong Tan Sang and his spouse expressed their gratitude to the President and people of Sri Lanka for the warm reception and hospitality accorded to them and the delegation of Viet Nam during their State Visit to Sri Lanka.