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Abe Strikes 'New Partnership' with Sri Lanka

  • Reuters

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) talks with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa during their bilateral meeting at the President Secretariat after in Colombo, September 7, 2014.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) talks with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa during their bilateral meeting at the President Secretariat after in Colombo, September 7, 2014.

It was a colorful send-off for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he wrapped up his two-day visit to Sri Lanka on Monday.

Abe visited the historic Kelaniya temple on the outskirts of the capital, Columbo.

He was greeted by dozens of children waving Japanese flags.

He offered lotus flowers to a statue of Buddha and was blessed by Buddhist monks.

He stopped at the temple on the way to the airport, where a new passenger terminal will be built with the help of a $330 million Japanese development loan.

Abe is the first Japanese leader to visit Sri Lanka in 24 years.

At a business forum on Sunday he said he and Sri Lanka's president agreed on improving their relationship from a traditional friendship to a new partnership between two maritime countries.

He also expressed hope for more cooperation in the agriculture sector.

Abe's South Asia tour, which also included a stop in Bangladesh, is an attempt to assert Tokyo's interest in a region where it has ceded influence to China.

China's president has a trip of his own scheduled to India and Sri Lanka later this month.

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