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Prince Saud, Lanka envoy discuss ways to bolster ties

Strengthening relations between the Kingdom and Sri Lanka was the focus of the meeting held between Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal and Sri Lankan Ambassador Mohamed Hussein Mohamed in Jeddah on Sunday.
The meeting took place after the Sri Lankan envoy presented copies of his credentials to the minister, who also received the credentials of Niger’s Ambassador Amadou Songhai, Iran’s Ambassador Hussein Sidky and Mauritania’s Ambassador Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Al-Ameen.
Mohamed told Arab News that talks, which addressed issues of bilateral interest, were cordial.
“I also told the foreign affairs minister that Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, intends to visit the Kingdom,” he said, adding that the last such visit was made by the late former Sri Lankan President Junius Richard Jayawardene some four decades ago.
Hussein Mohamed said the Saudi Embassy was set up in the 1990s following the visit of Prince Saud Al-Faisal’s visit to the island.
The Saudi Embassy in Colombo was established in the early 1990s, with Abdullah Al-Zahrani as the first charge d’affaires, who was succeeded by Ali Al-Hamdan.
In 2001, the Kingdom upgraded the mission and sent Mahmud Al-Ali as its first ambassador to Sri Lanka. Al-Ali served in Colombo until he moved to Pretoria after his appointment as ambassador to South Africa in December 2007.
The Saudi mission has been headed by Ambassador Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman Al-Jammaz for the past three years.
The ambassador said that he is keen on promoting trade, tourism and investment between the two countries. He also thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for various assistance given from time to time when the country needed them.
Saudi Arabia built a first-of-its-kind epilepsy and diagnosis hospital in Colombo at the cost of SR75 million. It also completed construction of a neuro-trauma hospital in the capital and built 500 houses for the island’s tsunami victims.
He said the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) gave an additional grant of SR11 million for the development of health facilities at the neuro-trauma hospital, which was built with SR40 million worth of Saudi aid to Colombo.
A bridge costing SR440 million and built with Saudi aid was opened by President Rajapaksa in Kinniya, the minister said.
The Trincomalee-Batticaloa highway was also widened with the funds allocated under the agreement. The SFD has given more than 1.2 billion Sri Lankan rupees for various projects in the island.

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