By APD writer Melo M. Acuna
MANILA, Jan.11 (APD) – The Department of Foreign Affairs said Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena will undertake a state visit to the Philippines from January 15-19 on invitation of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
In a statement released late Thursday night, the Department of Foreign Affairs said President Sirisena will meet President Duterte on January 16 to hold bilateral discussions on areas of mutual interest, including political, economic, cultural and people-to-people engagement.
He is also scheduled to visit the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Laguna.
President Sirisena’s visit is the first by a Sri Lankan President serving as Head of State and Government under Sri Lanka’s 1978 Constitution and the second by a Sri Lankan leader since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1961.
According to President Sirisena’s official website, he is now 68 years old and has a degree in Agriculture from the School of Agriculture in Kundasale in 1973. He was once a political prisoner after the 1971 JVP Insurrection although he was innocent of the charges.
In 1977, he was appointed Secretary to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Central Committee. In 1978, he resigned from work to engage in full-time politics. He was a participant to the International Youth Congress held in Cuba during the same year.
In 1994, after winning in the district elections, he was appointed Deputy Minister for Irrigation and in 2000, he was elected Vice Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. He later served the government in various capacities from being Cabinet Minister for Agriculture, Irrigation and Mahaweli Development in 2005 and later Minister of Environment and Natural Resources.
In 2010, he served as Cabinet Minister of Health and in the 2015 Presidential Election, he was declared the Common Candidate.
He has two daughters and one son. During his school days, he excelled in aesthetic studies (singing, dancing, art and cultural activities). He also has a Diploma in Political Science from the Maxim Gorky Academy of Russia.
Years ago, Sri Lanka bought enormous volume of Manila hemp which they used for casing of their famous tea.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)