Sri Lanka will take over the chairmanship of the Group of 15 from Iran next month at a two-day G 15 summit in Teheran beginning May 17.
A high-level delegation led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa will attend the summit, where he is scheduled to meet Iranian President Ahamadinejad on the sidelines of the meeting for bilateral talks aimed at strengthening ties between the two countries.
The G 15, which was established in 1989 as a community of the most successful Third World countries comprises 17 countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Rajapaksa visited Teheran twice during his first term.
Sri Lanka has received an interest free credit facility from Iran to purchase Iranian crude oil. The official said under the credit line, Iran provided seven months of credit, out of which four months were interest free. The rest were given at a concessionary interest rate of 0.5%.
The credit facility helped Sri Lanka to save foreign exchange during a time the government was waging war against the LTTE.
Iran also agreed to partly fund the improvement and expansion project for the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation-owned oil refinery at Sapugaskanda. The project plans to double the oil output capacity from 50,000 to 100,000 barrels per day to meet the country’s requirement. Unfortunately the project is yet to make headway due to shortcomings on Sri Lankapart.
Iranian Ambassador in Colombo, Mahmud Rahimi last week invited President Rajapaksa to attend the summit.
The G15 comprises Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Zimbabwe
President Rajapaksa is due to take over from President Ahamadinejad the Chairmanship of the Group of 15 during the forthcoming meeting in Tehran.
~ The Island ~ By Shamindra Ferdinando