Sri Lanka to discuss military cooperation with Pakistan

Mar. 31 (AFP) – Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse was due in Islamabad Friday for a three-day visit during which he is expected to discuss military cooperation with Pakistan, official sources said Friday. Rajapakse, who is also the defence minister, will hold talks with President Pervez Musharraf on bilateral trade, tourism, cultural exchanges and defence matters soon after his arrival in the Pakistani capital, the sources said.

The president is accompanied by his brother Gotabaya Rajapakse who is the top official in the Sri Lankan defence ministry.

Pakistan is a key supplier of small arms and provides training to Sri Lankan security forces.

The two countries entered into a free trade agreement last year.

Officials said Rajapakse will discuss military cooperation with Musharraf in the context of plans to modernise Sri Lanka’s armed forces despite a truce with Tamil Tiger rebels.

Sri Lankan troops have been observing a tenuous ceasefire with Tiger rebels since February 2002, but Scandinavian monitors have warned that the island could slip back to full scale war unless both sides show commitment to the peace process.

-Amal Jayasinghe: win98win@gma

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