Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa was welcomed on his historic first visit to Israel in an official reception by President Shimon Peres.

 Sri Lanka President Rajapaksa visits Israel


Copyright: GPO/Mark Neiman

(Communicated by the Office of the President)

President Rajapaksa came to Israel to broaden and deepen political and economic ties between the two states. Following the reception, the presidents held a working meeting during which they discussed the peace process, economic projects, and the strengthening of cooperation between Israel and Sri Lanka in the fields of agriculture, water management, hi-tech and innovation.

President Peres said: "Israel is determined to achieve a peace agreement with the Palestinians. We have in past signed two very important peace agreements – with Egypt, the largest Arab country in the Middle East, and with Jordan, the country closest to Israel. Even if peace is not perfect, it is better than war. We and the Palestinians both know that the only solution is the two state solution. Palestine, an Arab state, and Israel, a Jewish state, will live side by side in peace and understanding, taking advantage of the global economy to combat povery, war and unemployment."

President Rajapaksa expressed support for the negotiations between Isarel and the Palestinians: "We support the United Nations policy that both the Palestinians and the Israelis should have a free and independent state. Sri Lanka supports peace between all nations."

President Rajapaksa noted he is the first president of his country to visit Israel. "When we received our independence in 1948, diplomatic relations began to be formed between our countries, and Israel was one of the first states with which we established diplomatic relations." He expressed deep admiration for the Israeli economy, and for its innovativeness in technology, agriculture and water. He emphasized that a central goal of his visit was to broaden and deepen cooperation between Israel and Sri Lanka in these areas.