Free Press Journal

Rajapaksa leaves for Middle East on state visit


Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today left for the Middle East on a state visit during which he will hold talks with both Palestinian and Israeli leaders.

Rajapaksa, accompanied by First Lady Shiranthi Wickremasinghe Rajapaksa, will visit Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel during his trip, presidential office said today.

His first stop will be Jordan where he will meet with King Abdullah II, ColomboPage reported.

He will then travel to the Palestinian territories where he is scheduled to hold talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He is also set to receive the ‘Star of Palestine’ award in recognition of his solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle.

Rajapaksa, as a young MP, headed the Sri Lanka-Palestine Solidarity Organisation in the 1980s.

While in the Palestinian territories, Rajapaksa is also expected to lay a wreath at the mausoleum of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, meet with members of the Sri Lanka Palestine Friendship Association and visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the report said.

After his visit to the Palestinian territories, he would proceed to Israel for a two-day visit during which he will hold talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and
President Shimon Peres.

The Sri Lankan delegation is expected to hold discussions with the representatives of each country on strengthening bilateral relations in the agriculture, tourism, trade and employment sectors.

Ahead of the President’s Middle East tour, the cabinet here approved a proposal yesterday to set up a Youth Vocational Training Centre in Ramallah in West Bank.

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