India monitoring SL protests against SOFA
Posted on July 12th, 2019

Courtesy The Daily Mirror

India is keeping a close watch as protests grow in Sri Lanka over the proposed Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the US, which could enable the setting up of an American military base in Sri Lanka, the Economic Times reported today.

India is of the view that as a close neighbour, it would respect Colombo’s decision, as the Sri Lankan Prime Minister on Wednesday announced that his country would not sign any pact that violated sovereignty.

Delhi will respect Colombo’s decision on the matter. We are keeping a close watch as this pertains to our neighbourhood that has strategic significance for India,” an informed source who did not wish to be named has told the ET.

President Maithripala Sirisena also said over the weekend that he would not allow signing of any agreement which would not be in Sri Lanka’s interests.

The Lankan Government came under fire from the opposition over the SOFA, which would give the US forces unrestricted access to Sri Lankan facilities as well as diplomatic immunity.

“We have not signed a new agreement, but we have been discussing a draft. We will not sign anything to harm our independence and sovereignty,” Mr. Wickremesinghe told parliament on Wednesday, in response to an opposition query.

He said the Lankan ports would not be allowed to be used by any foreign force. “There was an exchange of letters between the then President JR Jayewardene and former Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi. It was stated that Trincomalee or any other ports in Sri Lanka will not be available for military use by any country,” he said.

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