Rajapaksa commits to Indo-US maritime agenda, seeks three-year moratorium on loans

[TamilNet, Sunday, 09 February 2020, 23:43 GMT]
“We have decided that we must have more intelligence sharing now, and increase the technical assistance [from India], as well as training. [...] In addition, we want to continue our earlier [pre-2015] project for tri-lateral terror and security cooperation between Maldives-India-Sri Lanka. We might have the meeting for that as soon as possible, possibly in the Maldives and discuss how to take the trilateral idea forward,” said Mahinda Rajapaksa in an interview to The Hindu on Saturday. Furthermore, the SL PM told the paper that Colombo was expecting “a moratorium on all loan repayments for three years until we can revive the economy”.

The Maldives has recently announced that it was backing the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS), which has been conceived by the US and advanced by India in its immediate neighbourhood in the Indian Ocean Region.

The US Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Jonathan Henick reiterated on 30 January that his office was “helping Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Maldives equip and train their navies and coast guards to safeguard strategic lines of communication.”

India’s National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, who is described as the most influential person in India, next to Indian PM Narendra Modi, made an unexpected visit to Colombo on 18 January.

The visit came four days after the visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his country would “not allow any outside influences to interfere with matters that are essentially internal concerns of Sri Lanka”.

Mr Doval outlined the importance of reviewing maritime domain awareness concept between Sri Lanka, Maldives and India and to include other regional states as observers,” reported India’s state-run Doordarshan News (DD News) on Doval’s visit.

It didn’t take much time for Gotabaya Rajapaksa to fall in line with India’s top bureaucrat, regarded as India’s ‘James Bond’.

“A very cordial discussion was held with National Security Advisor of #India, Ajit Doval today. Strengthening of bilateral cooperation on national security, intelligence sharing, maritime security & fostering of regional collaboration, were some of the key points of discussion,” tweeted Mr Gotabaya after meeting Mr Doval.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, in his interview to The Hindu, was also indicating how Colombo was buying ‘time and space’ without committing to the resolution of Tamil national question.


External Links:
The Hindu: If India agrees to postpone debt by three years, we can convince others too, says Mahinda Rajapaksa


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