Hambantota would not be a ‘Military Port’: Security handled by SL Navy and law enforcement agencies - Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe stressed that the Hambantota Port would not be a ‘Military Port’ and assured that foreign forces won’t be allowed to use Sri Lankan ports in a way inimical to the interests of other countries.
The Prime Minister was speaking at a business forum organized by the Japan External Trade Organization in Tokyo, yesterday stressed that security being strictly handled by the Sri Lanka Navy and law enforcement agencies.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is now on an official visit to Japan on 11th April accompanied by professor Maithree wickremesinghe, Ministers Sarath Amunugama and Malik Samarawickreme, MP Arshu Marasinghe, Secretary to the Prime Minister Saman Ekanayake, Additional Secretary Saman Athaudahetti, and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, Sandra Perera were among the delegation.
They were welcomed by Hiroto Izumi Japanese Prime Minister’s special Advisor, Sri Lanka Ambassador Dhammika Ganganath Dissanayaka, and Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Kenichi Suganuma.
PM Wickremesinghe reiterated the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government’s stand when he addressed a distinguished gathering in Tokyo yesterday. He was delivering a talk on Sri Lankan understanding of global situation and importance of Japan.
As Chinese interest in the Port continue to be viewed with suspicion, especially with regard to its military interests, the Premier said, “The Agreement on the joint venture between the Chinese company and the Sri Lankan Ports Authority precludes any foreign country from using the harbor for military purposes”.
Assuring Sri Lanka’s commitment to regional peace and stability, PM?Wickremesinghe emphasised that the Sri Lankan Navy would be responsible for security at all ports.
The PM was obviously referring to Sri Lanka’s agreement with China on the Hambantota port and the Chinese funded Colombo port city.
“It is only a commercial operation and we do not want any of Sri Lanka’s harbours to be used for military purposes other than that of the Sri Lanka Navy,” he added. The Prime Minister explained that law and order at the Port would be handled by the Police, Customs and Immigration of the Sri Lankan government and all internal port security would need to hire Sri Lankan staff.
Premier Wickremesinghe reassured his Japanese audience that any violation of conditions in the agreement would mean that the Sri Lankan government could take over the Port without payment of compensation.
“Any warship can come into the Port, provided the Government of Sri Lanka agrees to it,” said the Prime Minister as he sought to promote an equal playing field for all.
In March this year, the US Pacific Fleet’s transport ship USNS Fall River visited Hambantota on a Pacific Partnership goodwill mission. During its 12-day stay, it held a joint exercise with the navies of Sri Lanka, Japan and Australia. The visit was seen as a show of strength against Chinese expansion in the region along with allies such as Japan who is struggling to ensure that Chinese aggression in South China Sea does not extend to the Indian Ocean.
- Asian Tribune –