Sri Lanka seeks to strengthen ties with Kingdom

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador Azmi Thassim confers with Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar in this file photo. (AN photo)
Updated 03 February 2017

Sri Lanka seeks to strengthen ties with Kingdom

RIYADH: Sri Lanka looks forward to further strengthening ties with the Kingdom, especially in the fields of employment, trade, investment and tourism, the island’s Ambassador Azmi Thassim told Arab News on the eve of his country’s Independence and National Day on Saturday.
“Appreciating the long-standing relationship with Saudi Arabia, our country wholeheartedly supports Vision 2030 under the wise leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and the NTP (National Transformation Program) 2020 initiated by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier and defense minister,” Thassim said.
The envoy, who met with Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar recently, expressed hope for the enhancement of bilateral ties.
“Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, trade and tourism have tremendously increased for the benefit of the people of the two friendly countries,” Thassim said, adding that nearly 38,000 Saudis visited Sri Lanka last year.
The diplomat said his country is an ideal tourist destination for a family holiday: “We have plenty of attractions to offer Saudi tourists, and we are making every effort to attract tourists from this part of the world.”
He added that Saudi families who had visited Sri Lanka had always opted to repeat their visits because of the island’s natural scenic beauty and the hospitality of its people.
“Muslim visitors will feel at home in the city of Colombo since they can see mosques in the vicinity of every shopping center,” he said, adding that women in hijab are a common sight in the capital. “A good number of Saudis are currently visiting Sri Lanka for their leisure and honeymoon.”
Thassim said: “Our target is to promote trade and investment with the Kingdom.” Sri Lankan exports to Saudi Arabia include tea, garments, fruit and vegetables, cut flowers, leather goods and porcelain products.
“Ever since we established diplomatic relations with the Kingdom in July 1974, the two countries have maintained excellent relations in social, cultural, political and economic fields,” the ambassador said.
He added that the relationship with Saudi Arabia is significant not only because it is home to nearly 200,000 Sri Lankans, but also because it is a holy land for the Muslims who form 10 percent of the island’s population of 24 million.
A large number of Sri Lankan Muslims regularly travel to the Kingdom for the annual Haj and Umrah pilgrimage.
Thassim thanked the Saudi leadership for the “special care given to Muslims from all parts of the world, including Sri Lanka.”
He also thanked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, deputy premier and interior minister, and Prince Mohammed for their kind cooperation in maintaining relations with friendly countries such as Sri Lanka.

Houthi attack on Saudi Aramco facilities act of terror: Japanese defense minister

Updated 16 September 2019

Houthi attack on Saudi Aramco facilities act of terror: Japanese defense minister

TOKYO: Taro Kono, the defense minister of Japan, said that threats to his country’s oil supply was the “most worrying scenario” he could imagine in international relations, in the wake of attacks on Saudi Arabian oil production facilities. 

“The most pessimistic scenario right now is that something happens in the Straits of Hormuz and the oil supply gets cut down, and that would send a shock wave through the global economy. I think the price of oil is already rising after this attack on Saudi facilities, so that’s the most worrying scenario right now,” he told a conference in Tokyo, Japan.

However, speaking on the sidelines to Arab News, he insisted that Saudi Arabia would remain a reliable partner of Japan - which imports around 40 per cent of its crude from the Kingdom - and downplayed concerns about long-term supply problems.

“Saudi has been and will be an important source of our energy supply. We have international co-ordination, and we have reserves, so we are not really worried about that,” he said. 

Kono, who was until recently Japan’s foreign minister, said that his country would be seeking to promote diplomatic solutions to the latest Middle East conflagration. "We definitely need to ease the tension between those countries. As Foreign Minister, the last thing I was doing was calling the Iranian Foreign Minister and the French Foreign Minister to ease the tension the region through diplomatic actions, and I think it's important to continue doing it.

“This Houthi attack on Saudi is a little different, because it's a terrorist attack. I think we may require some kind of military operation against those drone attacks, and that's something out of Japan's constitutional boundary. I think Japan will be focusing on diplomatic efforts in easing tension in the region.”

He raised concerns about the apparent lack of sophistication in the recent attacks. “If it is really drones, that is a lot cheaper than any form of conventional missile,” he said.