Maithripala Sirisena received an unexpected warm welcome from Korean President Moon Jae-In Tuesday, on the eve of their scheduled official meeting.
President Sirisena, who arrived in Seoul Tuesday morning visited the famous Buddhist place of worship, Jogyesa Temple and was surprised to find President Moon waiting to receive him together with the Most Venerable Seol Jeong, head of the Jogye Order, the most prominent Buddhist sect in Korea, President’s Media division said.
President Moon said, although he was not scheduled to visit the temple today, he decided to come unannounced as he wanted to show his respect for President Sirisena. “We have so many things in common and I wanted to meet him and develop friendship and rapport before I meet him officially,” President Moon said.
President Sirisena said that although he had visited many countries as President, he could not meet a single leader before the official scheduled meetings. “This magnanimous gesture of humbleness shows the greatness of President Moon and his affection for Sri Lanka and its people,” he said.
President Moon said that he has many things in common with President Sirisena as both came from rural areas and struggled for years and served the people amidst difficulties to reach the current high positions. The two countries also have common historical experiences as both were under colonial domination, both faced militant movements, there were authoritarian regimes and finally both have reestablished democracy and entered into the path of rapid progress and taking effective steps to combat corruption.
Most Venerable Seol Jeong blessed the two Presidents and expressed the hope that the two humble leaders of their peoples would be able to carry forward the two countries and the people towards progress.
President Sirisena expressed his happiness about the opportunity to visit Jogyesa Temple in which the sacred Buddha relics gifted by Anagarika Dharmapala in 1913 have been enshrined.
Ministers Dr Sarath Amunugama, Tilak Marapana, Daya Gamage, Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, Malik Samarawickrema and Thalatha Athukorala also joined the President on this visit to the Jogyesa Temple.