Thu. Oct 29th, 2020

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Close on the heels of China restating its commitment to Sri Lanka’s advancement objectives and backing for Colombo at International forums, the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo Gopal Baglay met Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday (15) evening to discuss continuous Indian jobs in addition to cooperation on brand-new projects.A top level Chinese delegation, led by senior Chinese leader and top foreign policy authorities Yang Jiechi, who is likewise a member of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo and the Director of the Central Committee’s Foreign Affairs Commission met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa on Oct 8. Then the delegation also visited UAE, Algeria and Serbia.Immediately after the high powered Chinese visit, an area of the media reported that United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also expected to go to Colombo later this month. Asked whether the United States embassy had released a statement as regards Pompeo’s impending visit, an embassy official told The Island such statements had actually been issued by the State Department. Consequently, the authorities said:”No authorities travel has been verified at this time. Notice of any high level travel would be announced by the Department of State once a journey is formally validated.”Sri Lankan authorities said that Pompeo was arranged to go to Colombo in June 2019 for talks with the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Throughout bilateral talks, he was wishing to discuss concerns associating with counter terrorism, liberty of navigation in the Indian Ocean and the Indo-Pacific region, and the use of$480 million American Centuries Obstacle Corporation Fund with then Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe. However, the visit which was to take place ahead of the United States governmental see to G-20 top in Osaka was cancelled in the middle of media furore over the US seeking to settle MCC (Centuries Obstacle Corporation)Compact and SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement). Nevertheless, the United States embassy in Colombo mentioned’scheduling problems ‘over cancellation of the June 27, 2019

go to that was aimed at showing solidarity with victims of Easter Sunday fear attacks.Pompeo was to take a trip to Colombo on a short see, set up between his New Delhi trip and a visit to Osaka accompanying President Donald Trump for the

June 28-29 G20 Summit.The Sri Lanka Prime Minister’s Office stated HC Baglay followed on the virtual summit between Premier Rajapaksa and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month.The PM’s Office said:”One concern sector for Prime Minister Rajapaksa is water and sanitation. The High Commissioner noted several areas on which the 2 nations could collaborate, consisting of water requirements

in schools, sanitation needs, rainwater harvesting, building of toilets for denied areas, and a project that could transform sewage into fertilizer.Prime Minister Rajapaksa indicated that the lack of safe drinking water in particular parts of the country is the main issue, including the function it plays in persistent kidney disease. This is now a key top priority for the Sri Lankan Government.High Commissioner Baglay mentioned the

possibility to team up with Prime Minister Modi’s “Jal Jeevan Objective” (Water for Life Objective ), which is the Indian Government’s program that intends to supply safe and clean water for every single household.Prime Minister Rajapaksa kept in mind that the absence of drinking water is a particularly severe issue in the dry zone area of Sri Lanka and asked for the High Commissioner to check out any help that can be offered towards that end.The Prime Minister also requested India to take a look at the pharmaceutical sector and motivate Indian investors to establish research and manufacturing centers in Sri Lanka to help the nation satisfy its medical drug needed.”In the wake of the high profile Chinese check out, the media looked for a description from cabinet spokesperson Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella whether Sri Lanka was getting closer to China at the expenditure of its long standing relationship with Japan. Asked whether the federal government’s questionable choice to end proposed Light Train System that

was to be constructed with Japanese monetary help in Colombo and its suburbs prompted by growing relationship with China, Minister Rambukwella explained that just recently there was media furore over Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colombage’s discuss Sri Lanka’s relationship with India. However, Sri Lanka would continue to follow non-aligned foreign policy, the minister said.Sri Lanka attributed the decision to cancel the Japanese funded project to lots of houses and business facilities that would need to be damaged during construction, important wetlands would be significantly damaged, the expense of building the train track on towers would be enormous, and operating expenses too would be excessive.The Japan International Cooperation Firm signed a concessionary loan agreement with Sri Lanka worth about 30 billion yen($284 million)in March 2019 for the job, the total cost of which would have to do with 246.6 billion yen.According to foreign media reports the United States, Japan and India are working together to counter growing Chinese local and global influence. Source

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