COLOMBO, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- China's top legislator Wu Bangguo 's visit to Sri Lanka marked an important milestone in consolidating friendly ties and setting the tone for future cooperation between the two countries including at international forums, the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement here on Thursday.
During Wu's meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, both sides acknowledged that bilateral relations based on historic and cultural affinities have reinforced mutual trust and confidence, the statement said.
At the conclusion of this meeting 16 agreements were signed ranging from visa exemption and marine development to economic and technical co-operation.
Wu had noted that the All-round Cooperative Partnership initiated in 2005, should be the guiding light in evolving a new stage of cooperation in bilateral relations.
"In this respect the parties identified the importance of frequent exchanges of high level visits to inject new vitality to the existing relations," it stated.
Wu commended the impressive 8 percent economic growth recorded by Sri Lanka consecutively and post war reconstruction efforts that are underway.
In return President Rajapaksa thanked China for the assistance extended for safeguarding Sri Lanka's sovereignty and territorial integrity during the fight against terrorism and for the support extended to Sri Lanka particularly in the regional and multilateral fora and to forge ahead with post conflict reconciliation and rehabilitation programs involving all communities in the country.
Sri Lanka also pledged unstinted support to "One China Policy" and agreed to work together with China in regional and international fora on issues of mutual interest.
"China agreed to provide further support to Sri Lanka for reducing the trade imbalance. The NPC Chairman encouraged Sri Lanka to promote the country more vigorously in the Chinese market which would benefit Sri Lanka in enhancing exports and attract more Chinese tourists to visit the country," the release noted.
Reduction of import duties on Sri Lanka's exports were also discussed within agreed framework arrangements and it was promised to facilitate more market penetration opportunities to Sri Lankan exports to China.