Existing SOFA agreement signed in 1995 – Ranil
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe informed Parliament today July 10 that the agreement called the ‘SOFA’ (Status of Forces Agreement) signed with the United States dates back to 1995 and a new agreement does not exist.
Replying to questions raised by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and the Joint Opposition Wickremesinghe said nothing has been done that would damage the country’s sovereignty.
He said this responding to a question raised by Anura Kumara Dissanayake regarding the SOFA and the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA) agreement.
Further, Wickremesinghe said that there is no agreement to be signed and it can be signed only if we can agree to it after the ongoing discussions are over.
“But only the 1995 agreement still exists and the SOFA agreement is not a defense agreement,” he added.
Thad had been signed during the administration of Chandrika Kumaratunge, he said.
The ACSA agreement was signed in 2007 when Gotabaya Rajapaksa was Secretary to the Ministry of Defense, he pointed out.
“The US armed forces, as well as their civilian staff, have been granted diplomatic status under this agreement,” he said.
The two agreements which go hand in hand, deal with US Armed Forces access to Sri Lanka.
Documents leaked by Joint Opposition supporters purport to show that US forces will have unlimited access to Sri Lankan waters as well as roads and that they would not be prosecuted for wrongdoings in this country.
The Prime Minister said that the 2007 agreement has run out in 2017, and an extension has been granted.
The deal is being re-negotiated and some proposals were unacceptable and that he would hold discussions with the relevant ministry and the US embassy about them.
Further, he said that there is nothing in the agreements that could harm the sovereignty of our country. “There were many amendments to the ACSA agreement, We have had a discussion about it but there is nothing to hide, there is no agreement yet to be signed,” he added.