June 13, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka on Saturday sought aid from the United Arab Emirates to rebuild swathes of land devastated by the near four decades long ethnic war with the Tamil Tigers. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, who made the request to his visiting UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayid Al Nahyan, had also sought help to develop export markets for the island’s precious gemstones.
“We raised the issue of post-conflict development during our bilateral discussion,” Bogollagama told reporters during a joint press conference.
Sheikh Abdullah Al Nahyan declined to elaborate on the proposed aid pipeline, but said a formal announcement be made once both sides hold a joint meeting later this year.
“We are also looking at opportunities in tourism, agriculture, renewable energy and areas beyond that,” said Sheikh Abdullah Al Nahyan, who is on a one day visit to the Indian Ocean Island.
Sheikh Abdullah Al Nahyan’s father was the last UAE foreign minister to visit Sri Lanka in 1976.
Sri Lanka, which crushed the Tiger rebels last month, is seeking international help to rebuild the wartorn north and east.