by Feng Yingqiu
YANGON, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Top leaders of Myanmar and Sri Lanka exchanged
messages Sunday on the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic
relations between the two countries.
Senior-General Than Shwe, Chairman of the State Peace and Development
Council, said in his message to Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka, that
the existing friendly relations between the two countries are firmly based on
the close religious and cultural affinities which originated thousands of years
ago and friendship, mutual understanding and interaction between the two peoples
have consolidated in the past 60 years.
He expressed belief that the activities commemorating the anniversary will
add a new momentum to further strengthening of their bilateral ties.
In return, the Sri Lankan President said the Theravada Buddhist traditions
existing between Sri Lanka and Myanmar have always been the pinnacle in the
bilateral ties between the two countries, adding that the two countries share
common platforms at many regional and international forums.
He expects that his planned visit to Myanmar later this month and the
numerous other activities to take place in the two countries as part of the 60th
anniversary celebrations will further consolidate their bilateral relations.
On the same occasion, Myanmar Prime Minister General Thein Seinand his Sri
Lankan counterpart Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka also exchanged similar messages.
In August 2007, Thein Sein visited Colombo in exchange for the one to Nay
Pyi Taw by Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka in December 2006.
During Thein Sein's Sri Lanka visit, both of the two leaders stressed in
their discussions the need to promote bilateral cooperation mainly in trade,
tourism, agriculture, forestry, religious and cultural sectors.
Their discussions also covered continued implementation of the resolution
passed by the two countries' joint commission, mutual understanding on regional
and international issues and creating new opportunities on bilateral economic
On that occasion, two memorandums of understanding and one agreement were
signed between the two countries respectively on cooperation in intelligence
exchange, Buddhist literature studies and cultural exchange.
Sri Lanka has so far injected one million U.S. dollars' investment in
Myanmar since 1988, Myanmar statistics show.
In November last year, Myanmar agreed with Sri Lanka to establish direct
air and sea links to effectively boost bilateral trade ties between the two
countries as proposed by Sri Lanka.
Currently, trade between Myanmar and Sri Lanka is transacted through
Recently, the two countries have formed a business relation group, aimed at
enhancing bilateral trade between the two counties.
The 34-member business group will seek import of more agricultural and
marine products from Myanmar and export of new items to the country.
Sri Lanka mainly imports from Myanmar various beans and pulses, hardwood,
cane product, rubber and wood log, while exporting to Myanmar coffee, coco, dye,
flavoring and packing paper.
The two countries set up the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation in
Myanmar and Sri Lanka, which established diplomatic relations on June 7,
1949, have enjoyed cultural and religious ties since the 11th century.
Both Myanmar and Sri Lanka are now members of the sub-regional grouping of
Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation
(BIMSTEC) which also comprises Bangladesh, India and Thailand.
The BIMSTEC was originally formed with Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and
Thailand in June 1997 and later joined by Myanmar in August the same year. The
grouping expanded its membership to include Nepal and Bhutan at the first
BIMST-EC summit in Bangkok in July 2004.
Myanmar remains as an observer of the South Asia Association for Regional