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Sunday, 17 June 2012





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Government Gazette

President’s visit to the Vatican, a great success:

Spiritually, a sanctifying experience

President Mahinda Rajapaksa greets the Holy Father, Benedict XVI

The Vatican pledged unconditional support to the Government’s reconciliation process. President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to the Vatican and meeting the Holy Father, Benedict XVI was a great success. The Vatican accorded a warm welcome to the President and his delegation.

Former Attorney General Mohan Pieris told Asian Tribune, “The support of the Vatican was refreshing and a boost to the President to know that the Holy See is 100 percent behind the Government’s reconciliation process. Vatican sources said that the Government should continue to work with the same commitment as they are doing now”.

Mohan Pieris who is also the Special Advisor to the Cabinet of Ministers and the Chairman, Inter Agency Commission to Implement the Interim Recommendations of the LLRC was a member of President Rajapaksa’s delegation to Italy and Vatican from June 7-8.

Asked about the President’s visit to the United Kingdom, Italy and the Vatican, Pieris said it was very succesful.

“I did not visit the UK and I can’t speak on the President’s to London.

“I was in the delegation to Rome. The visit to Rome was extremely successful. The bilateral relationship was further strengthened. The Vatican had pledged unconditional support to the Government and its reconciliation process,” Pieris said.

No reference was made to the Bishop Rayappu Joseph.

Asian Tribune pointed out that Bishop Rayappu’s security problem will be taken up when the President meets the Pope. “But now you say it was not taken up by the Pope?”

“This matter was not taken up and as far as I am concerned there is no such problem and there was no discussion about it”, Mohan Pieris said.

Former AG Mohan Pieris

He said that numerous matters were covered in the discussions with the Pope and with the Cardinals, but there was nothing in writing.” We had discussions and matters of such common platforms were agreed upon for further action.”

He said, “The Vatican was of the view that the Government is doing everything within its power in the reconciliation process and they pledged support to the reconciliation process and they will facilitate the process in the best way they can.”

Pieris said, in Rome, the President and his delegation was received by the Director General of FAO Jose Grazino da Silva at the FAO headquarters. A brief meeting was held between President Rajapaksa and his delegation and the FAO Director General.

He said President Rajapaksa attended Vesak celebrations at the FAO headquarters in Rome as a special guest. It was attended by top Bhikkhus in Italy, Director General of FAO José Graziano da Silva, diplomatic community and Buddhists living in Rome, he said.

Buddhists in Rome extended a warm welcome to President Rajapaksa who is a widely accepted Buddhist leader in the world.

Chief Incumbent of the Rome Buddhist Vihara Ven. Molligoda Dheerananda Thera said, it was a significant day that Vesak was celebrated in Rome since it coincided with the President’s 42nd anniversary of entering Parliament.

The Bhikkus wished the President well and chanted Jaya Piritha to invoke blessings on him. Pieris said that it was a great event and there was interaction with the civil society which included some members of the Tamil diaspora, and it went off well.

The President held two meetings with them which included some members of the diaspora. He said Deputy Minister Neomal Perera saw the earthquake affected area with the Ambassador.

The President also had a one on one meeting with the Pope and talks with the Cardinals. The President’s delegation included First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa, Prof. G.L. Peiris, Deputy Minister Neomal Perera, Ambassador Asitha Perera and Ambassador Tamara Kunanayakam who is accredited to the Vatican, Presdient’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga.

Pieris said, “It was a spiritually and sanctifying experience and we exchange views in a frank and sincere environment.”

Courtesy: Asian Tribune



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