US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today met with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and discussed a range of bilateral trade including an economic partnership based on transparent trade and investment, COVID-19 as well as ‘a shared commitment to democratic freedom.
America’s top diplomats, who arrived in Sri Lanka from India on Tuesday for a two-day visit, will meet with the country’s top leaders as the United States struggles to balance the growing influence of the China in the region and pursue free and shared goals. Want to Open Indo-Pacific.
The president’s media division said Secretary Pompeo had met with President Rajapaksa for talks.
In a tweet, the U.S. Embassy in Colombo said Mike Pompeo had met with the president to discuss an economic partnership based on transparent trade and investment, key elements of the pandemic economic recovery, as well as a shared commitment to democratic freedom.
Later, Pompeo had bilateral talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunwarden, according to media reports in Colombo.
The report says Mike Pompeo’s visit will cover many areas of multifaceted engagement between the two countries.
This is the highest level visit by an American dignitary to Sri Lanka during the tenure of US President Donald Trump.
Thank you for the warm welcome @USAmbSLM I am delighted to be here in Colombo. I am proud of the work @USEmbSL has done to strengthen our relationship with government, business and people of Sri Lanka and look forward to expanding these efforts throughout my journey. #USwithSL, Secretary Pompeo said in a tweet.
Mr. Pompeo was in India with US Secretary of Defense Mark T. Oslo for the third edition of the US-India 2 + 2 Dialogue with his counterparts in New Delhi.
The US Secretary of State visited Sri Lanka at the invitation of his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunwarden. He is also expected to meet Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
In an interview with Mike Pompio, Sri Lanka stressed the need to maintain the independence of its foreign policy, Minister for Regional Cooperation at the Foreign Ministry Tharaka Balasuriya said on Tuesday.
“He will be here to discuss bilateral and regional issues,” Mr. Balasuria said.
Mike Pompeo will also visit St. Anthony’s Church in North Colombo, one of the churches devastated by the deadly Easter Sunday attacks last year.
The US State Department said in a statement, “Secretary Pompeo seeks to undermine the United States’ commitment to a strong and sovereign partnership with Sri Lanka and to pursue our common goals for an independent Indo-Pacific region and opened”. Will travel last week.
The Chinese military is flexing its muscles in the strategically important Indo-Pacific region and is also engaged in highly controversial regional disputes in the South China Sea (SCS) and East China Sea (ECS).
Earlier this month, India, the United States, Japan and Australia agreed to coordinate to create an independent and open Indo-Pacific.
Mike Pompeo’s visit is seen as part of Sri Lanka’s US effort to help China.
Mike Pompeo’s visit to Colombo in Lanka comes two weeks after a high-power Chinese delegation led by Yang Jiechi, a member of the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo.
Just a day before Mike Pompeo’s visit to Colombo, the Chinese embassy in Colombo accused the United States of interfering in China-Sri Lanka relations.
“We oppose the United States to take the opportunity to visit the secretary of state to sow and intervene in Sino-Sri Lankan relations,” the embassy said in a statement on Monday, the embassy said in a press release Monday.
He added that China and Sri Lanka had sufficient knowledge to manage the relationship between them and that no third party was required to determine this.
The statement hoped that the United States would “correct the practice of arbitrary interference in the domestic and foreign affairs of other countries”.
China is one of the biggest investors in various infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka. But there has been criticism locally and internationally and due to China’s growing concern to get Sri Lanka into the debt trap.
The previous government of Maithripala Sirisena entered into a 99-year lease with China in 2017 to settle its debt through equity.
Since last year, Sri Lanka’s economy, especially the tourism sector, has been eclipsed – initially by the Easter Sunday attacks, which killed more than 250 people and later by the coronavirus outbreak in Classes.
In July this year, the Reserve Bank of India extended Sri Lanka’s USD 400 million foreign exchange facility to increase the country’s foreign exchange reserves due to the coronovirus outbreak. The currency swap agreement will be available until November 2022.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV employees and posted from a syndicated feed.)