Sri Lanka, India to guarantee Indian Ocean freedom of navigation

ECONOMYNEXT – Talks between Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Indian Premier Narendra Modi underlined the importance of freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean, a statement said.

Both countries were committed to maintaining regional peace, observing maritime ethics relating to the Indian Ocean and guaranteeing freedom of navigation, a statement from the Prime Minister’s office said.

India has been uneasy at the increasing involvement of China in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is also planning to sell a port to China under a lock-stock-and-barrel model, departing from the usual practice of leasing commercial revenue-earning sections to private or international operators.

China’s actions in the South China Sea, where freedom of navigation of her smaller neighbours have been obstructed, have drawn concern. Vietnamese fishing vessels have been rammed by bigger Chinese ships. China has also built artificial islands as part of efforts to claim maritime territory.

Sri Lanka has been keen to get India involved in the development of the Trincomalee port. Talks have also been initiated with Japan, the statement said.

Sri Lanka and India also plan to boost joint ventures. Sri Lanka wants to become a ‘hub of the Indian Ocean’. (Colombo/Apr27/2017)

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