Colombo: – Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that Sri Lanka is against any country’s domination in the Indian Ocean region. Henceforth, the Sri Lankan foreign policy will not have any preferences. Moreover, it will have a non-aligned foreign policy. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa drew attention to the changed Sri Lankan foreign policy in the UN General Assembly. He clarified that Sri Lanka has a vital place in the Indian Ocean region. Therefore, the Sri Lankan priority will be to ensure that no country takes advantage of the other and peace prevails in the Indian Ocean region. The Sri Lankan President seems to have delivered a stern message to China, who is desperately trying to increase its influence in the Indian Ocean region.
President Rajapaksa said that the Indian Ocean region and the trade routes here are important for many countries. Therefore, the global powers should adopt a policy of support and cooperation, to ensure that peace prevails in the Indian Ocean region and the valuable natural resources in this region, are preserved. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa reminded that protecting the sovereignty of countries, regional integrity and no interference in the internal matters, are a part of the United Nations Charter.
Sri Lanka had pro-Chinese policies during the Presidential Tenure of current Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa. The huge amount of loans had been taken from China, during his tenure. China had increased its investments in major ports and projects. China had also started using the Sri Lankan port against India. Chinese submarines and warships were being anchored in the Sri Lankan port. China increased its influence on Sri Lanka, as a part of its strategy, to corner India. Sri Lanka had to bear a major brunt for this mistake, of leaning on the Chinese side. Sri Lanka was forced to lease the Hambantota port, to China, on a 99 years lease, as Sri Lanka could not repay the Chinese debts. Therefore, changes are apparent in the policies of the current Rajapaksa government.
Against this background, the importance given by the Sri Lankan government, of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, to India, while criticising China, becomes significant. Gotabaya Rajapaksa chose India, as the first destination for a foreign visit, after becoming the President of Sri Lanka, indicating that India will have a priority in the Sri Lankan foreign policy. Only a few days ago, Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colombage confessed that leasing Hambantota port to China for 99 years was a colossal blunder. Colombage also asserted that Sri Lanka will not budge from the India First policy and will not tolerate the use of Sri Lankan territory against any other country, especially India.
Meanwhile, virtual bilateral talks between Prime Minister Modi and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa ae scheduled to be held on 26th of September. Elections were held in Sri Lanka in the recent past. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government came to power with a thumping majority. After that, these bilateral talks have been scheduled. Mahinda Rajapaksa has expressed confidence that cooperation between the two countries in political, economic, defence and other sectors of common interests will strengthen further.