ECONOMYNEXT – United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who arrived in Sri Lanka last night will have talks today with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena today before leaving for Male.
Pompeo, the highest-ranking officials from Washington to visit Colombo in the last four years, will start his day with a press conference to which a select group of journalists have been invited.
Pompeo’s visit which includes stops in Male and Jakarta is dedicated to building “an open Indo-Pacific region” a commitment India, Japan and Australia have made to counterbalance growing Chinese influence and projection of power.
Before coming to Colombo Pompeo and US Secretary for Defense Mark Esper held talks in New Delhi with their Indian counterparts where they discussed on-going military cooperation.
Weeks before Pompeo arrived a ranking member of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo and former Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi visited Sri Lanka and met with the President and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
China also issued a statement through its mission in Colombo saying it is “firmly opposed to the United States taking the opportunity of the State Secretary’s visit to sow and interfere in China-Sri Lanka relations and to coerce and bully Sri Lanka.”
The National People’s Power alliance staged a demonstration against Pompeo’s visit yesterday, saying that the government will likely agree to sign the controversial Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC) deal which it says threatens the sovereignty of the country.
NPP Member of Parliament Vijitha Herath told reporters yesterday that it is no coincidence that the announcement of Pompeo’s visit came immediately after the passing of the 20th Amendment.
“The Americans have not been coy about why Pompeo is visiting India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia. It is to seek military cooperation to counter China,” Herath said.
“This government is making us a pawn in the global struggle for power,” he added
The ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna waged a virulent campaign against the MCC when the previous government wanted to sign the agreement saying it will bring US soldiers to Sri Lanka and part of the island’s territory would be ceded to the Americans. (Colombo, October 28, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana