COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that Lanka will not allow other countries to set up naval bases in its territory.
“We would like to reiterate that there would be no naval bases allocated to other countries within Sri Lanka,” Wickremesinghe declared in his keynote address at the 6th annual international naval conference called “Galle Dialogue” at the southern port city of Galle.
The Prime Minister’s remark is significant in the light of China’s alleged bid to set up a naval base in Lanka as part of its plan to establish its “String of Pearls” through naval bases and civilian ports across Asia.
“The adoption of a Chinese strategy of soft diplomacy in Asia and East Africa, along with the construction of new ports such as Hambantota and the String of Pearls Theory, has raised concerns of a possible Chinese long term plan to extend its sea power to the Indian Ocean,” Wickremesinghe said.
“There are concerns raised by the Chinese about a US-Indian strategic vision for the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean region,” he said.
Wickremesinghe called for an “inclusive” approach to the issue of maritime security and freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region, since no single country can ensure security unaided by others.