Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)

Vietnam and Lanka mark 50 years of strong friendship

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COLOMBO - Vietnam and Sri Lanka are marking 50 years of diplomatic relations on July 21, 2020 with the longstandi­ng friendship and cooperatio­n between the two countries strengthen­ed with high level visits, expanding economic links and people-to-people contact. “Our longstandi­ng relations have been based on friendship mutual understand­ing and cooperatio­n,” Vietnam’s Ambassador Pham Thi Bich Ngoc said in a statement. “Vietnam looks forward to building on the strong foundation of the past five decades and advancing our friendship as we make economic progress and overcome new challenges in a rapidly changing world. “Today the world is faced with an unpreceden­ted challenge of the coronaviru­s epidemic. Vietnam and Sri Lanka have both made strong gains in battling the virus. Our economic relations have rapidly grown in the last decade.” After establishi­ng diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka on July 21, 1970 Vietnam opened its embassy in Colombo in 1971. Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Van Dong paid an official visit to Sri Lanka on March 2-3, 1978, after Foreign Minister of the Republic of South Vietnam Nguyen Thi Binh visited Sri Lanka on May 23-29, 1976. Since then Foreign Ministers of the two countries have led delegation­s to strengthen relations. A new chapter in Vietnam Sri Lanka relations opened with President Mahinda Rajapaksa visiting Vietnam in 2011. Vietnam State President Truong Tan Sang visited Sri Lanka in 2011. In the same year Vietnam also re-opened the embassy in Colombo, which was temporaril­y closed in 1982. In 2013 Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh visited Sri Lanka and attended the inaugurati­on ceremony connected to the unveiling of the statue of President Ho Chi Minh or Uncle Ho as he is affectiona­tely known. This is a reflection of the deep friendship that the people leaders of Sri Lanka and Vietnam share. As a key point in global trade and travel Uncle Ho is known to have visited Colombo several times when ships stopped to refuel and get food. The two countries have establishe­d two bilateral cooperatio­n mechanisms. The Joint Committee on Economy, Science and Technology (chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs) establishe­d in 2003 has met three times and Political Reference Mechanism was establishe­d in October 2011 has met twice. “Based on the strong foundation laid in the past five decade and our shared aspiration­s to grow and improve the living standards of our peoples, we can look forward to greater economic and political relations in the future,” Ambassador Bich Ngoc said.

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