Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. COURTESY
Visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday said his country wants to strengthen bilateral relations with Bangladesh. "I look forward to engaging with PM Sheikh Hasina and the Government of Bangladesh to strengthen the bilateral relationship to mutually benefit both [of] our nations," he tweeted after his arrival in Dhaka.
The Sri Lankan Prime Minister is the second among the world leaders to attend the celebrations of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh’s Independence.
"I’m honored to be a part of the Golden Jubilee Independence celebrations and look forward to the next two days of festivities and discussions," said the Sri Lankan Prime Minister.
Bangladesh has warmly welcomed Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa as he begins his Bangladesh tour.
In the afternoon, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister attended the National Parade Square function at Tejgaon as the Guest of Honour.
In the evening, he attended a cultural programme and banquet hosted by the Bangladesh Prime Minister at the Grand Ballroom of Hotel InterContinental.
On Saturday, Rajapaksa will have bilateral talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart at her office and then there will be signing of MoUs on different fields. Both the leaders will witness the signing ceremony.
On Saturday afternoon, he will meet President Md Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban.
Earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina welcomed her Sri Lankan counterpart at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) upon his arrival on Friday morning on a two-day official visit.
Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih was the first to attend the program on March 17.
The VVIP aircraft of Sri Lankan Airlines, carrying the Sri Lankan Prime Minister along with his wife and entourage, landed at the airport at 9:45am.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina received him at the VVIP tarmac of the airport presenting him with a bouquet.
Mahinda Rajapaksa was given a guard of honour by a smartly turned out contingent drawn from the Bangladesh Army, Navy and Air Force at the airport.
Both Prime Ministers witnessed the state honour on the makeshift dais while the national anthem of the respective countries was played. Ministers, State Ministers, civil and military high officials were, among others, present at the airport.
From the airport, the visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister will move to the National Memorial in Savar to pay tributes to the martyrs of the Liberation War of Bangladesh.
Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to Dhaka will be followed by three other heads of state and governments of Nepal, Bhutan and India.