Colombo: Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to visit Sri Lanka, the External Affairs Ministry announced on Friday amid efforts to fast track the negotiations on the proposed Free-Trade Agreement with the communist trading giant.
The ministry in a statement said, “The upcoming visit to Sri Lanka by Chinese President Xi Jinping will be a diplomatic landmark for the two countries." (Agencies)
However, there was no indication of the likely dates for the visit.
Sri Lanka and China are to fast track negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries, the ministry said. The proposed FTA is considered to be biggest development since the famous Sino-Lanka Rubber-Rice Pact in 1952.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has visited China on six occasions since he was appointed president for the first time in 2005.
Rajapaksa was among the first six heads of States to call up the Chinese leader when he was appointed President.
China has in recent months shown keen interest in developing ties with Sri Lanka especially in infrastructure investments.
China-led projects in Rajapaksa's hometown Hambantota in the south of Sri Lanka have realised a sea port and the island's second international airport. It had a USD 3.6 billion bilateral trade in 2013, up from USD 1.1 billion in 2006.
Sri Lanka attracted over 50,000 Chinese visitors between January and April and the number is expected to surpass 120,000 by the end of this year.
The ministry in a statement said, “The upcoming visit to Sri Lanka by Chinese President Xi Jinping will be a diplomatic landmark for the two countries."