Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Iraq, Mr Amaralal Sumith Nakandala, last Wednesday met with the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Head of Foreign Relations to discuss ways of establishing relations between the Kurdistan Region and Sri Lanka.
Ambassador Nakandala’s visit is the first by a Sri Lankan diplomat to the Kurdistan Region and follows the re-opening of the embassy in Baghdad last year. The embassy was closed in 2003.
Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir welcomed the Ambassador to the region and briefed him about the history of the Kurdistan Region, as well as the current policies of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), particularly in regards to relations with the international community. He briefed the Ambassador on the activities of the 14 KRG Representative Offices abroad as well as the positive steps taken by the KRG which has resulted in 27 foreign representative offices working here in the region.
Ambassador Nakandala thanked the Minister and the DFR for their hospitality and spoke about the history of Sri Lanka as well as discussing the economic and social progress that Sri Lanka is currently enjoying, which has resulted in high literacy rates and a strong educational system. He said, “What you have achieved in the last two decades here in the Kurdistan Region is quite remarkable, and I believe that a Sri Lankan presence in Erbil is necessary.”
Both sides discussed the different areas of potential cooperation with Ambassador Nakandala highlighting the possible benefits to Kurdistan of Sri Lanka’s experience in human resource development, high level of education and expertise in agriculture and industry. Minister Mustafa highlighted the investor-friendly laws in Kurdistan and emphasised the KRG’s desire to build a strong private sector.
Minister Mustafa also suggested ways in which relations with Sri Lanka can be built, not only on a government to government level, but also on a university level, between chambers of commerce’s and most importantly between people. He said, “In future we can find areas of mutual cooperation in order to find the right framework in which to build strong relations.”
The meeting was also attended by Ms Siham Jabali, the Assistant Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations.