US has begun to wean Sri Lanka away from China’s maritime security net by incorporating Sri Lanka into their Indo-Pacific region maritime security program, says the Times of India.
The US State Department said last Tuesday that United States will collaborate with Sri Lanka to act against the attempts of claiming land or maritime regions through intimidation or use of force.
This would respond to the intimidation caused by China towards the controversial islands on the South China Sea.
“The United States and Sri Lanka are working together to oppose intimidation or the use of force to assert territorial or maritime claims,” the US State Department’s Deputy Spokesman, Jeff Rathke, said in Washington.
In the context of China’s aggressive posturing in the South China Sea and American concerns over similar power projections by the Chinese in the Indian Ocean, Rathke further said: “We support Sri Lanka’s efforts to contribute to maritime security and to fulfill its important role as a leading maritime nation in the Indo-Pacific region.”
The US State Department has stated that due to Sri Lanka’s strategic location, it has to serve an important task concerning the maritime security to Indo-Pacific.
Quoting a statement expressed by the US Secretary of State John Kerry, the spokesperson at the US State Department said that Sri Lanka will play a leading role regarding regional maritime security.
Meanwhile, referring to the special recognition made by US Secretary of State John Kerry to the Sri Lankan troops, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the US official had assured to extend every possible cooperation to support the forces that have deviated from the battle front and are engaged in other work.
Relations between the US and Sri Lanka were strained under former President Mahinda Rajapakse, who tilted toward China and tried to balance between Washington and Beijing. A regime-change operation backed by the US resulted in Maithripala Sirisena winning a presidential election in January.