President Jokowi receives Sri Lankan counterpart

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) received his Sri Lankan counterpart Maithiripala Sirisena at the Merdeka Palace here on Wednesday to strengthen cooperation in several areas, including the maritime sector.

The Sri Lankan president, who is in Indonesia as part of a state visit, arrived at the Merdeka Palace at 10 a.m. local time and was greeted by numerous elementary school students dressed in their traditional attire.

During the visit, the two heads of state held a "veranda talk" in the palace yard.

Jokowi was wearing a blue suit and a red tie, while the Sri Lankan president was in his white national costume.

After the veranda talk, the two state leaders held a bilateral meeting with several ministers from the two countries.

At a joint news conference, President Jokowi remarked that Sirisenas state visit to Indonesia was the first since a Sri Lankan president had visited the country 41 years ago.

"This visit is more special, as 2017 is the 65th year of diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Sri Lanka," Jokowi pointed out.

The president said Indonesia was ready to support the ongoing development in Sri Lanka and to follow it up by preparing a "Free Trade Agreement."

"The second priority is in the field of democracy, and we agreed to increase cooperation through capacity building and the exchange of experiences," the president noted.

The two heads of state ended the meeting with a luncheon, attended by the delegates and ministers.

President Sirisena will return to the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo on Wednesday afternoon.

Sirisena has also participated in the IORA Summit 2017 at the Jakarta Convention Center that produced the Jakarta Concord, emphasizing cooperation in the field of combating terrorism and violence.(*)