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China, Sri Lanka sign eight agreementsnews
28 February 2007

Mumbai: China and Sri Lanka have signed eight agreements for cooperation in the economic, agricultural and cultural fields. The agreements followed talks between Chinese president Hu Jintao and visiting Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapakse at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

China has confirmed participation in building the $500-million Puttalam coal-fired power plant in Sri Lanka, which could address the severe power shortage in the country.

China also is understood to have plans to take a major role in a billion dollar integrated harbour project in Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka. The project would have an oil refinery, container port, airport and other facilities.

Colombo has offered a block each to China and India without the tendering process and China is keen to participate in oil exploration for which Sri Lanka plans to invite global bids soon.

China and Sri Lanka have witnessed frequent high-level exchanges and increasing trade cooperation in recent years amidst a fall in India-Sri Lanka bilateral trade. China and Sri Lanka is also increasingly sharing mutual understanding and support in international and regional affairs.

"Facts prove that China and Sri Lanka are close and friendly neighbours, reliable friends and cooperative partners," Hu said.

China said it will strengthen coordination with Sri Lanka in multilateral organisations like the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) while Rajapakse vowed to enhance bilateral cooperation in areas as trade, culture, infrastructure, energy development, tourism, anti-terrorism and international affairs.

Total trade volume between China and Sri Lanka reached $1.44 billion in 2006, increasing by 16.9 per cent over the previous year, including $1.11 billion of exports and $34.83 million imports.

Besides Beijing, Rajapakse will also visit China''s business hub Shanghai, Guangzhou, capital of southern Guangdong Province, and central Hubei Province.

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China, Sri Lanka sign eight agreements