DiplomaticQuarter: Outgoing Sri Lankan envoy calls on Saudi officials

DiplomaticQuarter: Outgoing Sri Lankan envoy calls on Saudi officials
DiplomaticQuarter: Outgoing Sri Lankan envoy calls on Saudi officials

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Azmi Thassim called on a number of senior Saudi officials and have set up meetings with several others as his tour of duty comes to an end.

Speaking to Arab News on Wednesday, Thassim said: “As my four-year term as ambassador is nearing its end, I am meeting senior Saudi officials to thank them. It was great working with them to further enhance Saudi-Sri Lanka ties.”

Thassim’s tenure ends in around two weeks, but he said it “may take a month to bid farewell.”

The ambassador has already met with Qassim Gov. Prince Faisal bin Mishaal, Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar, Jeddah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Majed, and Eastern Province Gov. Prince Saud bin Naif and said he would visit the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah as well.

“I have also (set up meetings with) Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and some other ministers to bid them farewell,” the envoy added.

Thassim also met with Minister of Hajj and Umrah Mohammed Saleh Benten, he said, to discuss “the great services Saudi Arabia is proving to Hajj and Umrah pilgrims” and early preparations for Sri Lankan Hajj pilgrims this year.

“I thanked him and the Saudi government for all the facilities and great services they provided to our pilgrims,” he said, adding that they had also discussed their two countries’ diplomatic relationship, which has been ongoing for 45 years.

Thassim said the number of tourists from Saudi Arabia to Sri Lanka has grown substantially in recent times. Fifteen years ago it was about 3,500 annually, but in 2017 that number was 40,000.

Later this month, he said, an “important delegation” of recruitment agencies from Sri Lanka, including the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau, will visit Riyadh later this month to discuss “cooperation in human resources.”

And later this year, a Sri Lankan Parliamentary delegation will visit the Kingdom — a reciprocal visit for the Shoura Council delegation’s trip to Sri Lanka in September 2019. He added that he was looking forward to further visits between the two countries at all levels.

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