Sri Lankan president visits Maldives

MALE, Feb 11, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse arrived in the Maldives on Sunday for a series of talks on bilateral trade, officials said. Rajapakse is due to meet Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom for a one-on-one meeting followed by lunch with key government officials here.

The Sri Lankan president is expected to discuss matters of trade, tourism, education and fisheries during his three-day visit to South Asia’s most exotic holiday destination.

Officials organising his visit said Rajapakse would also meet some of the Sri Lankan community residing here.

Maldives employs a large number of Sri Lankans who work in areas ranging from leisure, finance, trade and education.

The Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago consisting of 1,192 coral islands, has had close ties with neighbouring Sri Lanka for many years.

The visit comes three days after Rajapakse sacked three key ministers and ordered a top-level police inquiry into what was reported as an alleged conspiracy to assassinate him.

Addressing members of his Sri Lanka Freedom Party on Saturday, Rajapakse said the trio had conspired with Tamil Tigers rebe