Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa along with his wife on Thursday received the Senior General Than Shwe, Chairman, State Peace & Development Council of Myanmar at the only international airport of the island nation and a Guard of Honour was accorded to his delegation. Such a high level delegation is visiting Sri Lanka from Myanmar after 43 years.

The Myanmar General is currently on a four day State visit to Sri Lanka and would along with his delegation visit places of Buddhist significance in Kandy, Anuradhapura and Kelaniya.

A media release here said that the Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama paid a courtesy call on the General and discussed matters of mutual interest to Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

“During the call, Foreign Minister Bogollagama stated that Sri Lanka was honoured by the visit of the Myanmar leader, which had taken place after a gap of 43 years. The Foreign Minister recalled the long standing relations between Sri Lanka and Myanmar, especially on matters connected to Buddhism, and stated that the visit by the Senior General would pave the way to further expand the trade and cultural ties between the two countries.

“In response, the Senior General stated that he was happy to visit Sri Lanka since he had great affection and respect for the country. He also expressed pleasure in meeting with H.E the President of Sri Lanka since his recent visit to Myanmar this year, and stated that he was looking forward to his visit to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic on 13 November 2009 and other places of religious significance”, the Foreign Office said.

In another development, Ajay Chhibber, the visiting UN Assistant Secretary General (ASG) and Assistant Administrator for UNDP at the end of his three day visit to Sri Lanka appreciated the past few weeks’ efforts of Sri Lanka to accelerate the release and return of the war displaced and to resettle a majority of them by January 2010.

A statement by the UNDP said here that in the course of his stay Mr. Chibber visited a government welfare centre in Menik Farm in the Vavuniya district where the war displaced are housed and the ‘Rice Bowl’ in Mannar District.

In Colombo, Mr. Chhibber met with senior government officials and Ministers, including Ministers Rohitha Bogollagama, Mahinda Samarasinghe, Basil Rajapaksa, Senior Presidential Advisor and the Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Planning, P.B. Jayasundera.

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