Sunday, 18 October 2020 07:54

Most powerful US officials’ visit to Sri Lanka becomes doubtful

The media hyped visit of the most powerful US State and Defense Secretaries visit to Sri Lanka this month following the recent whistle stop official tour of a high-level Chinese delegation is highly doubtful under present circumstances, informed source claimed.

According to the US Embassy in Colombo the arrival of the US State Secretary is not officially confirmed as yet.

This visit of two most powerful US officials had been announced to local media by Admiral Prof Jayanath Colombage, Secretary to the Foreign Ministry last week.

Local media quoted Admiral Colombage as saying United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due in the country this month.

“He is due in two weeks, breaking away from an official visit to New Delhi where he is to accompany his colleague, the US Defence Secretary Mark Esper, for a major military cooperation agreement expected to be signed between the US and India as part of an anti-China Alliance with Japan and Australia”.

Secretary Pompeo, who postponed a previous scheduled visit last year to Sri Lanka, is expected to arrive on October 27. It will be the highest-level US government official of cabinet rank to visit the country since one of his predecessors, John Kerry, visited Sri Lanka in 2015.

Several parties have pointed out that the US has drawn attention towards several projects including electricity and education, although the MCC agreement only proposes projects concerning land administration and public transport.

Following the recently-concluded parliamentary election, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz had called on education minister Professor G.L. Peiris and minister of power Dullas Alahapperuma.

Following these meetings, it was said that the US is willing to lend its support towards developing the education, power and energy sectors in Sri Lanka.

The SOFA agreement that would pave the way for US military officials to enter and remain in the country had been subjected to severe criticism in the past.

However, the US Ambassador who clarified the matter a few months ago said this agreement would not allow US military officials to enter Sri Lanka and remain in the country.

The pact known as the Visiting Forces Agreement would allow US forces to enter and leave the country.

While various views are being expressed in the country over both agreements, reports indicate that the US State Secretary may visit the country in near future.

The US State Secretary and Defence Secretary Mark Esper are scheduled to visit India on the 26th and 27th of October.

During their two-day visit, they will engage in bilateral discussions with Indian Foreign Affairs Minister S. Jayashankar and Defense Minister Ranjith Singh.

The discussion that has been dubbed as 2 plus 2, is expected to revolve around decisive matters concerning the Indo-Pacific policy.

The US has said it is of the stance that the Indian Ocean must be a free zone without interference.


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