Pakistan and Sri Lanka are set to sign civilian nuclear cooperation deal when President Maithripala Sirisena visits Pakistan in late March.
“President Maithripala Sirisena is expected to be here on March 31. The details are being worked out. The civilian nuclear cooperation deal will be signed during his visit,” said a senior government official in Islamabad.
President Sirisena, who assumed office in January, has been invited to visit Pakistan by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The official said Islamabad has received the schedule, proposed by Colombo, for their President’s visit on March 31. Sri Lanka had to sign a deal for nuclear cooperation with Pakistan for civilian purposes under the umbrella of International Atomic Energy Agency in 2014 and for the purpose the then Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa had planned to visit Pakistan but the visit could not take place due to the sit-in staged by Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf.
Sri Lankan high commissioner for Pakistan air chief marshal Jayalath Weerakkody, who was commander of Sri Lankan air-force before assuming the diplomatic assignment in Pakistan, has confirmed the plan to visit Pakistan by his former President but that did not materialise.
He has also hinted at signing a deal with Pakistan for civilian nuclear cooperation.
Diplomatic sources say Sri Lanka is maintaining a balance in its ties with important countries of the region as the President will visit important regional capitals one after other during the year.
Prime Minister Sharif was among the first foreign dignitaries who made a phone call to President Sirisena on his historic victory in polls in January.
The Prime Minister had also invited the Sri Lankan President to visit Pakistan, which was accepted. Since then the two foreign offices were engaged in making arrangements for the agreed visit.
The Sri Lankan President also plans to proceed to China soon after visiting Pakistan as he has already visited New Delhi where he signed an agreement with the Indian government for civil nuclear cooperation.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also visit Sri Lanka in March, but no schedule has yet been confirmed by the either sides.
Sri Lanka is keen to initiate its nuclear programme and it is eyeing the Chinese reactors for the purpose.(The Asian Age)