President raises Hajj quota issue with Saudi Shoura Speaker

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Speaker of Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council, Dr. Abdullah Al- Asheikh has told President Maithripala Sirisena that effective steps would be taken to establish strong cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka parliaments.

He said this when he called on President Sirisena at the President’s Office in Colombo yesterday, according to a Presidential Secretariat communique.

The communique said that the President had thanked the Saudi Speaker for the long-term assistance provided to development activities in Sri Lanka through the Saudi Fund.

He also thanked Saudi Arabia for providing assistance to Muslim Hajj pilgrims who visit Mecca. He requested an increase in the Hajj pilgrimage visa quota to Sri Lanka. The Saudi Speaker said that the Saudi government has taken steps to increase the facilities available for pilgrims and the construction works would be completed next year. He added that the President’s request to increase the Hajj quota to Sri Lanka would be seriously considered.

President Sirisena pointed out that 136,000 Sri Lankans are currently employed in Saudi Arabia. Speaker Al-Asheikh said Sri Lankan workers were very popular in his country for their efficiency and his country would take steps to offer more employment opportunities to Sri Lanka.

Dr. Al-Asheikh said that the Kingdom and Sri Lanka shared a similar goal in combating terrorism which was not related to religion or race.

He lauded Saudi-Sri Lankan bilateral relations which he said were growing stronger based on cooperation and friendship under the two countries’ leaderships. The Speaker said that during the visit he aimed to discuss a number of issues of common interest between the Shoura Council and the Sri Lankan Parliament.

Speaker Al-Asheikh arrived in Sri Lanka for an official visit on an invitation by the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.

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