President Mahinda Rajapaksa met with members of the Sri Lankan community living in Bahrain at the Ritz-Carlton on Tuesday evening at a reception organized by the Sri Lankan Embassy.
"Even though it took time, we are happy we were able to establish diplomatic ties with Bahrain," President Rajapaksa said when he took the opportunity to speak briefly to those who had gathered. He added that because of the opening of the Embassy, "the cooperation between the two countries has increased," and the Government has been able to better serve the Sri Lankans living in this Middle Eastern country.
The President told the audience about the high regard in which the King of Bahrain His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa held the Sri Lankan community in Bahrain and the positive comments he made during the bilateral discussions about the contribution of Sri Lankans in Bahrain to this country's economy as well. President Rajapaksa informed the audience that when he was presented with the prestigious Khalifa Medal yesterday, "I felt it wasn't for me but for the country (Sri Lanka) and all of you," for which the audience erupted with applause.
While encouraging each person to positively represent Sri Lanka, the President also requested the Sri Lankan community in Bahrain not to fall prey to misinformation. President Rajapaksa said the portrayal that there is religious tension in Sri Lanka, that some are trying to create, is inaccurate. He reassured the audience that he would not allow for any type of religious conflict in Sri Lanka to raise its head.
External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera, Labour and Labour Relations Deputy Minister Sarath Weerasekara, Provincial Council Member Nauzer Fowzie, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Bahrain Anura Rajakaruna were present at the vent.