(Mar. 11, 2009) On March 3, 2009, Sri Lanka and Nepal concluded two agreements, one to establish air service between the two nation's capital cities (Kathmandu and Colombo) and one creating a ministerial-level joint commission. The documents were signed in Nepal, during a visit by Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka's President.
The new commission is designed to further the exchange of political and financial support between the two Asian nations, as well as to promote cooperation in areas such as education, cultural exchanges, and agriculture; it will meet annually. One of the goals of the new air service is to increase tourism from Sri Lanka to Nepal. Rajapaksa also announced plans to build a Buddhist monastery at the Buddha's birthplace, which is in Lumbini, Nepal. Sri Lanka is about 70 percent Buddhist. (Sri Lanka Signs Two Agreements with Nepal, COLOMBO PAGE, Mar. 3, 2009, available at http://www.colombopage.com/archive_09/March3163956CH.html; Nepal, Lanka to Strengthen Ties, PRESS TRUST OF INDIA, Mar. 2, 2009, available at http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20090085335.)