SL Army stationed near Hambantota Port - PM | Daily News


SL Army stationed near Hambantota Port - PM

‘No foreign interference needed in investigating war crimes’:
The audience at the Oxford Union.
The audience at the Oxford Union.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in a speech at the Oxford Union on Monday, said the Sri Lanka Army is stationed within the vicinity of the Hambantota Port and there are no foreign naval bases in the island.

The Premier said Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port is a commercial joint venture between the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and China Merchants Port Holdings (CMPort) - a company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe speaks at the Oxford Union on Monday. Pictures courtesy Prime Minister’s Media Division

In a Q&A with Oxford University students after his speech, the PM echoed President Maithripala Sirisena’s comments to the UN in September regarding the importance of a country’s independence in reconciliation efforts. The PM said Sri Lanka does not need foreign interference in investigating war crimes.

With Indian Ocean sea lanes carrying about half the world’s containerised cargo, Sri Lanka, positioned in the middle of East–West shipping lanes, is at the centre of growing trade activity, and, thus, at the centre of global investment and an intensifying power struggle, the Premier said, during his speech.

Outlining an emerging ‘global cartography’, the Prime Minister divided the world into four quartiles – the West, China, the Islamic World, and everyone else. He said those ‘remaining’ countries, which include Sri Lanka, “will possess the potential of determining the final outcome of this power play.”

Because of the Indian Ocean’s increased strategic importance, Wickremesinghe said a concept of the ‘Indo-Pacific’ is developing. Some, he said, “welcome the Indo-Pacific as a means of containing China,” but others fear controversy in the South China Sea will spill over to the region.

With its unprecedented Belt and Road Initiative, China has an ever-growing presence nationally and regionally. Japan has expanded involvement in the region stepping forward to lead the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership when the US departed from the agreement. And India has set its sights on strengthening ties within its own region with its ‘Neighborhood First’ policy.

“This is an indication that the powers of the Western world are becoming limited,” the Premier said, predicting the re-emergence of Asian countries as centres of power like they were pre-colonial times.

Emphasising the importance of preserving a distinct Indian Ocean identity amidst these rapidly changing development, the PM called for a strengthening of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) for smaller states. In accordance with this goal, Sri Lanka will be hosting a conference on the Indian Ocean at Temple Trees today and tomorrow (11 and 12).

The PM also spoke at the London Stock Exchange while visiting the UK.

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