Sri Lankan leader calls for better air links in South Asia

COLOMBO, Nov 26, 2014 (EconomyNext) – South Asian countries should broaden their aviation links by allowing airlines to fly to more cities in the region, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa told a regional summit Wednesday.

He also proposed a Buddhist cultural and tourism trail linking key religious sites in the region that would benefit from better flight connectivity.

"The benefits of regional initiatives on infrastructure, communication, air, road and rail links, must reach those in the periphery," Rajapaksa told the opening of the 18th Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Kathmandu, Nepal.

He called for more progress on regional agreements on railways and motor vehicles.

"There is also a need, to broaden the scope of our aviation links by permitting freedom rights for airlines to reach not only the capitals, but other SAARC cities as well," Rajapaksa said.

With Buddhist civilizational heritage seen across South Asia, and Nepal the birthplace of the Buddha, Rajapaksa suggested establishing a "cultural trail" linking key Buddhist sites in the region.

"The ease of air links is imperative for the success of the Buddhist cultural trail," he added.

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