KARACHI: There is great scope for increasing bilateral trade and economic cooperation between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and to further strengthen a seven-decade old political and cultural relationship of the two countries.Lankan Consul General in Karachi G L Gnanatheva expressed these views on Thursday, while speaking at the inauguration of a three-day Sri Lanka Food Festival of 2018. The purpose of the festival is to commemorate 70th independence celebrations of Sri Lanka.He stressed the need for greater cooperation between the two countries in different sectors through enhanced government-to-government and people-to-people contact. He suggested that trade and cultural delegations should be exchanged between the two countries on a regular basis. The consul general said Sri Lanka had a 1,600-year old historical tradition, which embodied its rich culture, long traditions and high values of human existence. He said his country had long been renowned for its spices. “In 15 and 16 centuries, spices and ivory traders from all over the world visited Sri Lanka and brought their native cuisine to the island, resulting in a rich diversity of cooking styles and techniques. Portuguese, Dutch and British and Indian cooking methods influenced Sri Lankan dishes being eaten today.Sri Lankans like to use spices in their food quite generously because the country has a history of being a major spice producer and trader over several centuries.”Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Pakistan, Major General (retd) Jayanath Lokuketogodoge said Sri Lanka-Pakistan relations were spread over seven decades. They were characterised by a true spirit of mutual respect, good understanding, and excellent cooperation also in defence and security matters. “Pakistan’s assistance in fighting against terrorism in Sri Lanka would always be appreciated by people of Sri Lanka,” he said, adding that the two countries possessed rich cultural heritage. “Pakistan and Sri Lanka shared many similarities on this account. However, cultural connectivity between our peoples should be developed into greater cooperation,” he said.“As a step in this direction, Sri Lankan embassy has decided to celebrate independence by providing the opportunity to people of Pakistan to taste authentic Sri Lankan cuisine and witnessing traditional and rich culture of island at this food festival.” Published in Daily Times, February 9th2018.