Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena will pay an official visit to Thailand in November to boost ties with the Southeast Asian state, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry confirmed in a statement October 26.
Sirisena’s trip to Thailand, which will take place from November 1 to November 4, comes as the two countries commemorate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year. In that vein, the visit is expected to enhance mutual cooperation in various areas including investment, tourism, and religious and cultural relations between the two Buddhist-majority countries. Both sides are also expected to ink a memorandum of understanding on academic cooperation.
According to the Sri Lankan foreign ministry statement, during his visit Sirisena will be received in audience by Crown princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and will hold bilateral discussions with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on enhancing the bilateral relationship. He will also address a business forum organized by the Thai Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking.
A number of religious and cultural events are also reportedly being planned. Sirisena is expected to bring a Buddhist relic from Mahiyangana Raja Maha Vihara in Sri Lanka – believed to be the site of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha’s first visit to the country – to Thailand for Thais to worship at Phutthamonthon, a Buddhist park in Thailand, up to November 16. He will also give a Buddha rock carving to the Thai government at Thammaram Temple in Ayutthaya, a city which used to be the capital of an ancient Siamese kingdom. Sixty monks from temples across Sri Lanka will also travel to Thailand to be part of these religious events.
Sirisena’s visit will cap a year of celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary. For instance, in June the Thai embassy in Sri Lanka announced a series of commemorative activities, including a “Thai Festival” on September 2 which had Sirisena as the chief guest as well as a business networking reception. Thailand and Sri Lanka had also agreed to issue joint commemorative stamps with the logo of the 60th anniversary.