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Sri Lanka-Egypt friendship and cooperation flourish further

(July 23, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Today July 23rd Egypt celebrates the 56th Anniversary of the July Revolution 1952, a memorable day of Egypt and turning point in its contemporary history.

Egypt is no longer the same as it was in the 1950's as the consecutive stages of our course of national action have led to a new turning-point. The priority now is to complete the structure of our Egyptian democracy, pursue socio-economic reform and realize comprehensive and integrated development. Our main goal is to build the aspired for modern society and to establish pillars of a modern civic state for a peaceful and secure Egypt.

As we celebrate Egypt's National day, we do recognize lessons learned from the course of national action before and after the Revolution, while taking pride in the achievements and gains earned, we forge our way towards the future with clear vision and future resolve.

The relations between Egypt and Sri Lanka have been cordial and flourishing throughout the years, ties between our two countries go back to the times of Sinhala Kings in the 13th century according to historical records, the historical foundation of the relations between the two countries was laid centuries ago when Egypt's national leader

Ahmed Orabi and his six companions lived in Sri Lanka on exile in the 19th century.

Last April, 2008 Egypt hosted the 2nd Ministerial meeting of the Middle East Asia dialogue at the city of Sharam El Sheikh-Egypt, with a view to allowing mutual and common interests and serving the political, economic and +cultural bonds between the governments and the people of the two regions, Hon. Rohitha Bogollagama, Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka led a high profile delegation of Sri Lanka in the Asia Middle East meeting.

In the frame of the strong and friendly relations building between the two countries, Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs paid an official visit to Egypt on 7-8th April 2008, the visit also coincided with the 125th Anniversary for Sri Lanka receiving Egypt's national leader Ahmed Orabi and his companions.

Hon. Minister, Rohitha Bogollagama, held discussions with Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Ahmed Abul Gehit, Hon. Rashid Mohammed Rashid, Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Minister of Tourism. Egyptian side affirmed Egypt's Keenness on developing its relations with Sri Lanka in various fields particularly trade, investment, cultural and parliamentary cooperation, during the visit a MOU between the two governments on tourism cooperation was signed. Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka delivered a lecture at the Asian Study Center, Cairo University on "counter terrorism Sri Lanka experience."

It is important to note that Egypt and Sri Lanka share similar approach to the Key global issues, such as ensuring a central role for the UN and Security Council in International relations, settlement of regional conflicts, fighting poverty and climate change, both countries are too well aware of the atrocious substance of terrorism.

The economic component of our cooperation has been developing in recent years. At present our trade turnover is approaching the Mark of US$ 30 million per annum. However the potential for development of volume of trade is high, the government of Egypt reduced the tariff system in 2004 and 2007. The 30% tariff for tea was reduced to 5% in 2000 and 2% in 2006. Similarly tariff for desiccated coconut, cashew nuts and main food was reduced to 2%

As for the cultural component of our cooperation, Egyptian government is planning to increase the total number of scholarships awarded by the Egyptian side to carry out Islamic theology related subjects of the AI Azhar University in Cairo, the Egyptian Government has already increased number of teachers to teach Arabic and Islam related studies in Sri Lanka. The Egyptian International Center for agriculture conducts yearly regular courses and scholarships to Sri Lankan candidates.

Overa ll I am confident that Egyptian - Sri Lankan cooperation has substantiated for further development, expansion of our friendly ties between our two governments and people.
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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