Officials confirm Indian high Commissioner had “unplanned” meetings with Sri Lankan leaders
ECONOMYNEXT – India’s High Commissioner in Colombo Gopal Baglay met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena yesterday officials said, after Sri Lanka appeared to pull out of its agreement to grant rights to the East Container Terminal (ECT).
The President’s office said the call on Rajapaksa “was unscheduled” while the Prime Minister’s Media Secretary told EconomyNext the meeting was “casually arranged.”
Gunewardena’s Media Secretary said that Bagley had made an appointment with the Foreign Minister.
None of the officials said why Bagley had the flurry of meetings.
When the Cabinet of Ministers announced that the government decided not to grant an Indian investor the rights to the ECT the Indian High Commission reacted with a statement.
The Mission said it would “like to reiterate the expectation of Government of India for expeditious implementation of the trilateral Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) signed in May 2019 among the Governments of India, Japan and Sri Lanka for the development of ECT with participation from these three countries.”
“The commitment of Government of Sri Lanka in this regard has been conveyed several times in the recent past, including at the leadership level. Sri Lanka cabinet also took a decision three months ago to implement the project with foreign investors. All sides should continue to abide by the existing understandings and commitment.”
Diplomatic sources said that the subject had been discussed during the recent visit of the External Affairs Minister of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to Colombo.
The government appeared to change course after a chorus of opposition rose from Trade Unions in the Colombo Port that normally back the government as well as Nationalists such as Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansha.
The General Secretary of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Sagara Kariyawasam criticized Weerawansha for publicly opposing the issue. (Colombo, February 3, 2021)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana