India- Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Association for the 9th Parliament of Sri Lanka was established November 11th at the Parliament complex under the patronage of the Speaker of Parliament, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana. High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, Gopal Baglay was invited as the Guest of Honour at the meeting.
The meeting was attended by more than 100 Members of Parliament and included several Ministers, State Ministers and MPs. Speakers at the meeting highlighted that this was the largest number of attendees they had seen for the establishment of a Parliamentary Friendship Association. This was highlighted as a testimony to the strength of India- Sri Lanka bilateral relationship.
During the meeting Hon’ble Chamal Rajapaksa, Minister of Irrigation and State Minister of National Security & Disaster Management and State Minister of Home Affairs was elected as the President of the Association. Hon’ble MPs Rauff Hakeem, M.A Sumanthiran and Dr. V. Radhakrishnan were elected as the Vice- Presidents of the association. Further, Hon’ble Anura Priyadharshana Yapa, MP and Hon’ble Jeevan Thondaman, State Minister for Estate Housing and Community Infrastructure were elected as the Secretary and Asst. Secretary respectively. Hon’ble Jagath Kumara Sumithraarachchi, MP was elected as the Treasurer of the Association.
Speaking at the event, Hon’ble Foreign Minister Prof. G.L.Peiris highlighted the close civilizational ties between India and Sri Lanka. He also highlighted that the greatest gift of India to Sri Lanka was Buddhism and stressed on the importance of people to people connect between the two countries.
In his remarks, High Commissioner congratulated the President and office bearers on their membership of the Association. He also expressed confidence that the establishment of the Association would reinvigorate Parliamentary exchanges and interactions between the two democracies. He added that this would further aid in strengthening the multi-faceted bilateral relationship between the two nations, especially in six areas including fostering sharing of democratic values, cooperation in combating common challenges, enhancing people-to-people connectivity, encouraging greater economic engagement, strengthening the cultural connect and sharing the fruits of development partnership. High Commissioner also read out excerpts from a message from the Hon’ble Om Birla, Speaker of the Lok Sabha addressed to Hon’ble Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka extending his heartiest congratulations on the occasion.