Sri Lanka in a Geopolitical Sweet Spot | Security Risks Asia Made with Humane Club

Sri Lanka in a Geopolitical Sweet Spot

Published Jan 24, 2020
Updated Feb 29, 2020

The importance of Sri Lanka as a major geopolitical fulcrum in the Indian Ocean Region is evident with the foreign ministers cum high officials of the three permanent members of the UN Security Council Russia, China and the US visiting the country at the same time followed by the Indian National Security Adviser a few days later in mid January.

While some were in line with their attendance at the Raisina Dialogue being held in Delhi the stopover in Colombo assumes importance.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of the Peoples’ Republic of China Wang Yi and the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells of the US visit to the country indicating the importance that has been given due to the geostrategic location in the Indian Ocean region.

All three countries are seeking a long term relationship with Sri Lanka through various mechanisms such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation with the US.

Russia

Russia will continue to provide all necessary arms and ammunition to the Sri Lankan Army for Sri Lanka’s security Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, said at a press conference in Colombo. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, was on a two-day official visit to Colombo with a 42-member delegation, held a joint press conference after meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart Minister Dinesh Gunawardena at the Minsitry of Foreign relations.

Gunawardena said, “Under the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the two countries have taken a new friendly approach. Russian politics and literature nurtured Sri Lankan literature and politics. We thank Russia for supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. Both countries have a very good understanding. Today’s bilateral discussion is also very effective.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the two countries share a close and long-standing friendship based on trust, respect and equality. “Sri Lanka and Russia work together very closely, especially, the law enforcement and defense ministries. We are ready to continue to provide the Sri Lankan forces with all the weapons they need for security.”

United States

The Millennium Challenge Corporation agreement with Sri Lanka will be renegotiated after the commission appointed by President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to study the agreement concludes its study, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells said.

Ambassador Wells said the US respects Sri Lanka’s decision to appoint a committee to study the proposed agreement and will await the outcome of that process.

China

Visiting Foreign Minister of the Peoples’ Republic of China Wang Yi assured that China, as did in the past, would be Sri Lanka’s long time partner in prosperity and growth, when he called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat this morning (14). “Sri Lanka is a small country.

Fortunately or not, it is geographically placed in a most strategic location. As a result, the country has to face many political challenges. The only way to overcome them is to be economically strong. The economic independence will ensure political independence,” President Rajapaksa told the visiting Foreign Minister.

Minister Yi in his response noted that China’s policy towards Sri Lanka had always been consistent and China would continue to be Sri Lanka’s reliable friend. The Chinese Minister conveying the warmest greetings from the President of China Xi Jingping congratulated “China’s old friend” President Rajapaksa for getting elected to office. Minister Yi said that after the in-depth discussion he had with President Rajapaksa he was confident that already existing strong bilateral relations could be further strengthened.

India

India’s National Security Adviser AjitDoval soon followed these high profile visitors and was in Sri Lanka assuring President Rajapaksa $ 50 million of aid and assistance.

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