UN will always work closely with Sri Lanka – Assistant SG
The United Nations will always work closely with Sri Lanka, said United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Politics, Peacebuilding and Peace Operations Khaled Khiari.
Khiari made the remarks during his meeting with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the presidential secretariat yesterday (25).
Khiari is visiting Sri Lanka as part of the bilateral meeting with United Nations President and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, held in September this year on the sidelines of the 76th session of the General Assembly of United Nations. Khiari conveyed the best wishes from UN Secretary General Guterres to President Rajapaksa and said the UN stands ready to engage in constructive and positive engagement with Sri Lanka.
Welcoming the President’s affection and concern for the environment, the Under-Secretary-General appreciated Sri Lanka’s commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
The president explained that steps are being taken to plant 100,000 mangroves with the help of the navy and that steps are being taken to prevent climate change through environmental conservation programs.
President Rajapaksa expressed his gratitude to the United Nations agencies and donors who have helped Sri Lanka through the COVAX center to succeed in the vaccination campaign and to meet other challenges in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic.
The President stressed that the government’s development program implemented in the North and East after the end of the war in 2009 had enabled rapid development. The President recalled his invitation made during his participation in the United Nations General Assembly to the diaspora to work with all communities after his visit to Sri Lanka. The Chairman said he hoped the invitation would be met with positive initiatives.
The two sides exchanged views on the unity and relations between the communities. An environment where all communities can live freely has been created in Sri Lanka. The president pointed out that the Minister of Justice is from the Muslim community, the Attorney General is from the Tamil community and that many of those in other key positions are from different communities. President Rajapaksa said that the government has undertaken a great task in building unity among the communities and therefore no one should have the slightest doubt in this regard.
Both parties believed that education was fundamental for unity between communities.
President Rajapaksa said that the process by which South Africa was able to end apartheid and move forward will be studied and the lessons that can be learned from it and what can be implemented will be examined. The President also expressed the hope that the United Nations will provide assistance in this regard.
United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, Policy Officer in the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs of the United Nations Department of Peace Operations Chiaki Ota, Secretary to President PB Jayasundera and Senior Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga were also present.