China, Sri Lanka vow to deepen ties

Sri Lankan Prez Mahinda Rajapaksa, met Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during which the two leaders `pledged to enhance the two countries` cooperation.

Updated: Aug 11, 2011, 18:42 PM IST

Beijing: China and Sri Lanka on Thursday pledged
to enhance their "ever deepening relationship and cooperation"
as it had brought substantial benefits to "regional peace and
development".

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who arrived in
China on Tuesday on a four-day tour, today met Chinese Premier
Wen Jiabao during which the two leaders "pledged to enhance
the two countries` cooperation", Chinese state-run Xinhua news
agency reported.

Welcoming Rajapaksa, Wen said the ever deepening
friendship and cooperation between two countries have brought
substantial benefits to the two peoples and promoted regional
peace and development.

China, which has stepped up military and development
assistance to Sri Lanka in recent years, is also constructing
the strategic port at Hambanthota in southern part of the
country.

China, which is one of the largest bilateral donor to Sri
Lanka, in June committed USD 1.5 billion for its post-war
reconstruction plan.

It also extended strong backing to Rajapaksa government
in staving off international criticism over human rights
violations by Lankan troops in the last stages of war against
LTTE.

China`s liberal aid and assistance was seen by analysts
as an attempt to expand its influence in South Asia to counter
India`s influence in the region.

Wen told Rajapaksa today that China is ready to help Sri
Lanka`s economic development, promote communication between
the two countries with regard to infrastructure construction,
enlarge two-way trade and investment, and strengthen cultural
and personnel exchanges.

Rajapaksa, who arrived in China on Tuesday, is facing
mounting international pressure for an independent probe into
war crimes allegations during the ethnic conflict that ended
in May 2009.

The Sri Lankan President, who hailed the deep traditional
friendship with China, appreciated Beijing`s valuable
long-term support.

He said Sri Lanka will enhance cooperation with China in
all fields and promote bilateral comprehensive partnership of
cooperation, Xinhua reported.

Rajapaksa will attend the opening ceremony of the 26th
Summer Universiade being held in southern Guangdong province
tomorrow.

His attendance would further enhance the China-Sri Lanka
relationship, Wen said.

President Hu Jintao is scheduled to meet with foreign
guests attending the opening ceremony in Shenzhen city.

PTI