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One-year ban on foreign research vessels directed at China: Udaya

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Nominee to be US Amb here let the cat out of the bag before Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader Udaya Gammanpila yesterday (16) said that nominee to be the next US Ambassador to Colombo Elizabeth K. Horst had revealed that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government announced a ban on foreign research vessels’ entry into Sri Lankan waters on January 1 this year at the behest of the US.

Addressing the media from at party office at Etul Kotte, MP Gammanpila pointed out that the disclosure had been made when Horst appeared before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 09 May.

The former Power and Energy minister said that Horst’s initial statement and her responses to questions raised by members of the committee could be accessed from www.senate.gov

During her testimony, Horst stressed the need to monitor Chinese research vessels in the Indian Ocean.

“We have huge concerns and we have asked for that moratorium. We think it is Sri Lanka’s best interest,” she said.

The Ambassador Nominee stressed the importance of collaborating with Sri Lanka to enhance its maritime patrol capabilities to safeguard sovereignty and regional stability.

Gammanpila said the Foreign Ministry owed an explanation regarding the disclosure made by Horst.

Declaring that the move was meant to prohibit the entry of Chinese research vessels, MP Gammanpila said that however the US and German research vessels were allowed this year. The ex-minister emphasised that the government stand that US and German vessels had been allowed for only replenishment wasn’t acceptable and the ban imposed at the US demand jeopardised Sri Lanka’s relations with China.If Sri Lanka for whatever reason decided to deny entry to research vessels, that should apply to all countries, the former minister said.

(SF)

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