H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, paid an introductory visit to Sri Lanka from 28 to 30 May 2012.
During the visit, the Secretary-General called on His Excellency Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka on 28 May. At the meeting, the Secretary-General apprised the President of the status of implementation of the recommendations of the Seventeenth SAARC Summit, with a particular reference to intra-regional trade and connectivity. The President expressed the unwavering commitment of Sri Lanka to the strengthening of the SAARC process to promote the welfare of the people in the region.
The Secretary-General called on H. E. Niomal Perera, Deputy Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka on 29 May. During the meeting, the Secretary-General briefed the Minister about the ongoing activities of the Association.
On 28 May, the Secretary-General called on H. E. Mr. Karunathilake Amunugama, Secretary/External Affairs of Sri Lanka. During the meeting, the Secretary-General and the Foreign Secretary reviewed the decisions of the Seventeenth Summit and took stock of progress made in their implementation. At the meeting, the Secretary-General and the Foreign Secretary also discussed the urgent need to strengthen the SAARC Secretariat.
While in Colombo, the Secretary-General met Mr. Sumith Nakandala, Secretary-General (designate) of BIMSTEC on 29 May. The Secretary-General briefed the latter about the role and structure of the SAARC Secretariat, among others.
The Secretary-General paid a visit to the SAARC Cultural Centre on 29 May. During the visit, Mr. G.L.W. Samarasinghe, Director informed the Secretary-General about the ongoing activities of the Centre. The Secretary-General felicitated the Director and his able team for the very useful work being done by the Centre to promote cultural links among the countries in the region.
Earlier on 28 May, the Secretary-General addressed the Inaugural Session of South Asia Follow up Regional Consultation on the UN Study on Violence Against Children hosted by the Government of Sri Lanka. In his Address, he briefly highlighted the initiatives taken by SAARC in promoting the cause of children and women in particular.
Directors Mrs. R. D. Rajapakse and Mr. Ibrahim Zuhuree accompanied the Secretary-General to these meetings in Colombo.