People of Sri Lanka consider Nepal as a very special place to visit as it is the birthplace of Prince Siddhartha known as Lord Gautama Buddha. This is a holy land for Buddhists and every Buddhist once in their lifetime wants to pay a visit to Lumbini, a sacred place of Buddhists worldwide. These pilgrims as cultural emissaries from a friendly country have significantly contributed in promoting and enriching religious and cultural relations between the two countries. The noble teachings of Lord Buddha have remained a constant source of inspiration to the Buddhist community in both Nepal and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s association with Lumbini Development Trust has led it to construct an attractive Pilgrim Rest in Lumbini further deepening and promoting cultural understanding between both countries. Lumbini Development Trust also has given a plot of land to Sri Lanka to construct a Monastery in a Sri Lankan way.
Sri Lanka and Nepal established diplomatic relations in 1957. The high-level visits started after the visit of late King Mahendra to Sri Lanka. After that, there have seen several state visits by the leaders of both countries. Sri Lanka and Nepal have always enjoyed a very close and warm relationship. With the opening of Resident Missions in Nepal and Colombo in 1993 and 1995 respectively, the relationship between the two countries has been expanded to many areas of cooperation.
The high-level visits undertaken since 1957 by the leaders of the two countries have significantly contributed to the promotion of the links. The interaction between the two countries at the bilateral and regional level under the umbrella of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has further enhanced the relations. The SAARC priority is the promotion of regional welfare and prosperity through collective effort is beyond dispute. The SAARC has brought Nepal and Sri Lanka closer together to work in concert with other member countries for a common objective which is the well-being of the people in the region.
The Heads of state of both the countries had a great role to play in initiating and developing the relation between Nepal and Sri Lanka. The state visit made by late King Mahendra in March 1957 helped to renew the traditional relation existing between the two countries. The royal delegation consisting of, among others, Queen Mother Ratna Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah was accorded a warm welcome by the Governor General of Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister, Ministers and a huge multitude of the people. During the visit, king Mahendra had remarked, "The two countries lie far apart from each other from the geographical point of view. But the two great countries of Asia, Nepal and Sri Lanka, have been friends with each other for ages. The high regard which the people of Sri Lanka have for the messages of Lord Buddha, who was born in Nepal, signifies the cordiality existing between the two countries. Because of the strength of the cultural relation existing between both countries, we have been able to continuously foster the spirit of friendship."
In 1967 king Birendra, too, paid an orientation tour to Sri Lanka when he was still the crown prince. Similarly, the Governor General of Sri Lanka Mr. William Gopalawa paid a visit to Nepal representing Sri Lankan Government during the wedding ceremony of King Birendra in February 1970. In a function organized at the Anandakuti Vihar in Swoyambhu, he remarked that a happy relationship existed between Nepal and Sri Lanka. In February 1975, President of Sri Lanka William Gopalawa had participated in the Coronation of King Birendra representing Sri Lanka. In an interview given to the Radio Nepal, he highly commended the Coronation and said the friendly relation between the two countries was growing gradually.
Late king Birendra had led the delegation to participate in the Fifth Summit Conference of the NAM states held in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1976. On the occasion, discussion had taken place with the Sri Lankan leaders on bilateral, regional and international issues. Shortly after, an agreement took place between the two countries on establishing a direct air service. On the occasion Nepal supported Sri Lanka's proposal to make Indian Ocean a zone of peace and Sri Lanka supported Nepal's Proposal that Nepal be declared a zone of peace. The commitment of both the countries to the UN Charter and the participation in the effort of the UN to maintain peace was another salient feature of that meeting.
Sri Lankan President J R Jayawardane and Mrs. Jayawardane had a state visit to Nepal 1978. King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya gave a cordial and warm welcome to them. President Jayawardane said that Nepal and Sri Lanka, which were familiar with each other for thousands of years, had become closer friends. After his visit to Lumbini, he expressed Sri Lanka's desire to provide help in development of Lumbini. As a result, Sri Lanka Pilgrim Guest House could be constructed. Like other countries, Sri Lanka, too, has built Lanka Maha Viharaya in Lumbini.
In August 1980, King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya Rajaya Laxmi Shah had a state visit to Sri Lanka. In his speech issued before his departure he said: “As one of the non-aligned countries located in the south of the Asian Continent, Sri Lanka has a very cordial relation with Nepal.
The King and Queen were lavishly welcomed in Sri Lanka by President Jayawardane and his wife. The King also granted audience to former President William Gopallawa and Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premdasa.
King Birendra visited Sri Lanka in September 1988 in the capacity of the SAARC Chairperson. He had discussed the issues of regional cooperation and bilateral relation with Mr. Jayawardhane, Former President. Earlier, a bilateral agreement was signed on increasing the volume of bilateral trade and promoting joint venture between Nepal and Sri Lanka.
In April 1988, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranasinghe Premadase paid an official visit of Nepal. The then Prime Minister of Nepal Marich Man Singh had accorded him a warm welcome. The king had also granted audience to the Sri Lankan Prime Minister. The two prime Ministers had discussed bilateral, regional and international issues during the meeting.
In 1991, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala visited Colombo as the head of the Nepali delegation to the Sixth SAARC Summit Conference. After the end of the conference, he met President Premadasa and held discussion on bilateral, regional and international issues.
In 1992, Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa visited Nepal in the capacity of the Chairperson of SAARC. The Nepalese King accorded a warm welcome to him. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and President Premadasa had a review of regional cooperation and also discussed about bilateral matters. President Premadasa also met Former Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Chairperson of Independent South Asian Commission for Poverty Alleviation and extolled his contribution.
President Premadasa, who was at the apex of his popularity in South Asia, was assassinated in a bomb attack in 1993. Nepal also observed an official mourning for him by hoisting the national flag at half-mast and declaring a one day national holiday. The then Home Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba visited Colombo to attend his funeral. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala said, "Nepal had lost an open hearted well-wisher in the death of President Premadasa." In this way, the Sri Lankan and Nepali people shared the sorrow and sadness together.
The Speaker of the Sri Lanka Parliament Kirti Banda Ratnayaka visited Nepal in 1997 and contributed in fostering friendship and understanding between the parliaments of the two countries. He met the Nepalese Prime Minister and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and held discussion on matters relating to bilateral relations between the two countries.
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala led a Nepali delegation to the Tenth SAARC Summit Conference held in Colombo in 1998. He met Prime Minister Chandrika Kumaratunga and held discussion on bilateral, regional and international issues.
In 1999 President Chandrika Kumaratunga had a state visit to Nepal. King Birendra and Queen Ayswarya accorded a warm welcome to her. Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai called on him and discussed bilateral issues. Leader of the main opposition Madhav Kumar Nepal and President of the Nepali Congress Girija Prasad koirala also met President Kumaratunga.
In January 2002, President Kumaratunga visited Nepal to participate in the 11th SAARC summit. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba accorded a warm welcome to her. President Kumarangatunga proposed to observe one minute's silence in memory of Late King Birendra, one of the founding members of SAARC, who was assassinated in the Palace Massacre of 1 June 2001. She also proposed a resolution of appreciation for the Late King which was unanimously endorsed.
Nepal's Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa visited Sri Lanka in the capacity of the Chairperson of the SAARC on 26 November 2003. During his visit of Sri Lanka he reviewed the regional scenario after the last Summit meeting and discussed the potential agendas of the conference.
Hon. Rohitha Bogollagama, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka paid a visit to Nepal at the invitation of Hon. Foreign Minister of Nepal, Hon. Sahana Pradhan. The visit coincided with the 50th Anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Nepal, which fell on 1 July 2007. The high level visits further enhanced our close relations between the two countries.
His Excellency Mahinda Rajapakse the President of Sri Lanka visited Nepal at the invitation of the Rt. Hon. Ram Baran Yadev, the President of Nepal from 02-03 March 2009. This visit was hailed as a landmark in Nepal as it was the first visit by a Head of State since Nepal’s political transformation as a Republic form of Government. During this visit, two important agreements between two countries were signed. One was the Air Service Agreement which facilitates direct flights between Colombo – Katmandu and vice versa. The other one on the establishment of a Joint Commission between two countries which covers Trade, Finance, Agriculture, Industry, Development of Infrastructure, Science & Technology, Environment, Tourism, Education and Health, Culture and Sports.
The two countries have already taken important steps in economic and tourism sectors with an aim to increase the volume of bilateral trade, investment and tourism. For instance, the Government of Sri Lanka and the Government of Nepal have signed an Air Service Agreement on 23rd January 2009. The direct Air-Link will improve Nepal-Sri Lanka ties immensely and it will be a win-win situation for both countries.
His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa re-visited Nepal during the month of October 2009 in order to pay homage to Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha. During his visit he declared open the Sri Lanka Monastery Complex in Lumbini. The reconstruction and renovation of Sri Lanka Maha Vihara in Lumbini commenced on 12th February 2009 under the patronage of H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Lumbini Trust. The complex is situated in East Monastic Enclave of the Lumbini Development Master Plan and includes a research centre and a library.
During his visit H.E. the President also met with Rt. Hon. President, Rt. Hon. Prime Minister, Hon. Deputy Prime Minister & Foreign Minister of Nepal, Leader of the opposition and various others Ministers in Nepal. The visit of H.E. the President again highlights the excellent bilateral relations that exist between our two countries particularly our strong bonds of cultural and religious values.
The H.E Mahinda Rajapaksa President of Sri Lanka visited Nepal in the year 2014 to attend the 18th SAARC Summit held in Kathmandu.
The Inter-Summit Session of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was held in Pokhara, Nepal from 14th-17th March 2016. Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Foreign Affairs headed the Sri Lankan delegation. On the sidelines of the SAARC Council of Ministers' Meeting, Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, called on Rt. Hon. K. P Sharma Oli, Prime Minister of Nepal and collective calls on SAARC Foreign Ministers.
Rt.Hon. Bidya devi Bhandari, President of Nepal visited Sri Lanka to attend the closing ceremony of the UN Vesak Day celebrations held on 14th May 2017 in Kandy as the Chief Guest. The President was accompanied by 22 member delegation including Minister of Administration.
Rt. Hon. President met with H.E. Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka in Colombo on 14th May and two leaders discussed bilateral issues as well as other matters of common concern.
Nepali President also paid homage to the Sacred Tooth relic of Gauthama Buddha at Dalada Maligawa, Kandy, and also visited Peradeniya Botanical garden and planted a sapling of “Diospyros Nnummulariifolia”. She attended a programme on “Women Empowerment” organized by Hon. Chandrani Bandara, Minister of Women and Child Affairs on 15th May. The President of Nepal also visited Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya.
State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake attended the Fifteenth Ministerial Meeting of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectorial Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) in Kathmandu, Nepal, on 11 August 2017.
During his stay in Nepal, State Minister Senanayake had bilateral meetings with Rt. Hon. Sher Bahadur Debua, Prime Minister of Nepal and Hon. Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nepal.
Hon. Onsari Gharti Magar, Speaker of the Parliament accompanied by a delegation attended “08th Conference of the Association of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians” from 04th – 06th October 2017 held in Colombo.