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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Final settlement with Tamils soon: Ranil

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Colombo: A final settlement with the Tamils will be reached within the next few months over their long-standing problems, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe has said.

Wickremesinghe told the first ever graduation ceremony of the National Defence College here that he was currently having discussions with Tamil MPs to achieve that goal, The Island newspaper reported on Friday.

Speaking late on Wednesday, the President also made it clear that Sri Lanka will be open to all navies but will never be a part of any global rivalry.

“Whatever it be, we will not join any big power or take sides, we will stay out of it. And that’s why we want to ensure that the big powers and the rivalry don”t need to certainly lead to conflict in the Indian Ocean. That’s one thing we can’t afford,” he was quoted as saying.

The President noted that the geopolitics of the Indian Ocean had made Sri Lanka a “punching bag.”

In remarks clearly directed at India, he made it clear that the Hambantota port leased out to China was a commercial port, not a military post.

Wickremesinghe added that Sri Lanka would not join any military alliance and did not want the problems of the Pacific coming into the Indian Ocean. He urged the countries in the Indian Ocean region to come together to maintain stability of the region.

“It is important for commerce to carry on. We have to remember that bulk of the petroleum supply and energy supply to the world goes through the Indian Ocean. A large amount of shipping goes through the Indian Ocean. We don’t want this to be an area of conflict and an area of war.”

The President’s come in the wake of a vocal row between India and China after a Chinese naval ships which New Delhi suspected was meant for spying visited Sri Lanka.

Wickremesinghe, however, underlined that Sri Lanka would not do anything that affects India’s security interests.

“When it comes to the security of Sri Lanka, we are of the view that in looking after the security of Sri Lanka, we must also ensure that nothing adverse happens to the security of India. That we have been committed to, and we will go ahead with it. There will be no movement out of it.

“That’s why we work with India on the Colombo conclave, on the trilateral security arrangements and many other fields, especially outside the military field of piracy, of human trafficking, of drugs. All those are useful ways in which we cooperate with India and the other island states.

“Then we also value our friendship with Maldives, those small islands, and we know how important the Maldives is.”

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