Iranian president tours oil refinery on visit to Sri Lanka

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held a prayer ceremony with Sri Lanka's Muslim community Tuesday and toured an oil refinery his country is helping to expand as he concluded a brief overnight visit here. Iran has pledged US$1.9 billion in soft loans and grants to Sri Lanka to help it expand its only oil refinery, develop an irrigation and hydropower project and buy Iranian oil, says the Sri Lankan government. "The expansion of the relationship between our two countries is not only beneficial to our own countries, it also helps the peace and stability of the region," Ahmadinejad said late Monday after meeting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and signing a series of economic agreements. In a sign of the importance Sri Lanka placed on the visit, state television broadcast all of Ahmadinejad's movements live and the government-controlled Daily News called it "epoch-making."