US nominee to Sri Lanka prioritizes fair access to ports for all ships
Posted on May 12th, 2024

Courtesy The Daily Mirror

Colombo, May  (Daily Mirror)- Amid concerns over the presence of Chinese research vessels conducting surveys in the Indian Ocean, the US nominee to Sri Lanka Elizabeth K. Horst assured the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee to work with Sri Lanka to ensure a moratorium on these vessels remains in place.

The Senate committee raised questions about the potential national security threat posed by the vessels, which are believed to have links to the China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and display suspicious behavior. Horst emphasized the importance of collaboration with Sri Lanka to enhance their capabilities in patrolling their waters and defending sovereignty. The issue of the moratorium on Chinese vessels in Sri Lankan ports is at the forefront of discussions surrounding regional security concerns.

We are working to make sure there is fair access to ports for all ships,” she said adding that We have huge concerns and we have asked for that moratorium. We think it is Sri Lanka’s best interest.”

She also said “…cooperation with Sri Lanka is a key part of our security assistance. It is important for the Sri Lankans to have the capability and technology to patrol their own waters and defend their sovereignty. If I am confirmed, we will work with them to build their own capabilities.”

She also noted that the US government’s investment in Sri Lanka demonstrated a transparent and different model of investment, giving Sri Lankans a choice in their economic partnerships. Horst also committed to finding ways to further support and strengthen US activities in the region if confirmed.

Commenting on the economic situation in Sri Lanka, she said that the IMF is working closely with partners in the Sri Lankan government to make sure they can get back on better economic footing. We are making sure any debt negotiations treat partners fairly. There is an element of the IMF program that looks at governments to make sure that any programs also take care to the most vulnerable and are spread fairly. If I’m confirmed, I will look to follow in the steps of the ambassador Chung or to make sure we continue to work with the IMF to help Sri Lanka,” she said.

Sri Lanka is a vital partner to the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, and it has been for over 76 years. If confirmed, I would focus on three main pillars of the U.S.-Sri Lanka relationship: broadening our economic cooperation, bolstering our security interests, and deepening our ties with Sri Lanka’s diverse and vibrant population,” she said.

She further said that if confirmed she will support members of marginalized populations in Sri Lanka, accountability, truth and reconciliation, and transparency and justice.

In response to a question about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, she said, “If I’m confirmed, you have my commitment to work with your committee and with Congress to ensure we are holding everyone accountable to the international standards we want them to adhere to.”

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