On Monday, Ali Sabry, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, declared that Colombo hasn’t permitted a vessel from China to dock, adding that India’s security concerns are “crucial” for Sri Lanka.
When asked about the reports on a Chinese research vessel dubbed the Shi Yan 6 scheduled to be docked in October in Sri Lanka and India’s concerns regarding it, he mentioned that they maintain a standard operating procedure (SOP) and have consulted several friends, of which India is one.
China's Shi Yan 6 spy ship docks in Sri Lanka, India, has expressed concern over China's growing military presence in the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka must not allow China to use it as a pawn in its geopolitical games.#SriLanka #China #India #geopolitics #diplomacy pic.twitter.com/RGRYqhHIRi
— Krishan Sellahannadige (@KSellahannadige) September 21, 2023
The conversation has been going on for some time. Meanwhile, India has expressed concerns for a long time, but the SOP is now framed. When making that, a lot of friends were consulted, including India. As long as it complies with the SOP, there are zero problems. But if it does not comply with the SOP, there would be an issue, Ali Sabry informed ANI.
He mentioned that Sri Lanka has not permitted the Chinese vessel dubbed Shi Yan 6 to dock in October, adding that negotiations are going on.
So, permission was not given to visit Sri Lanka in October. However, negotiations are underway. India’s security concerns are legitimate and important. The idea is to keep the region a zone of peace, explained Ali Sabry.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sri Lanka’s President, had also mentioned that an SPO was worked out, particularly for foreign vessels.
Daily Mirror reported that the China-based research vessel was expected in Sri Lanka to carry out research with the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (abbreviated NARA).
Victoria Nuland, the US Under Secretary, during her meeting with Ali Sabry, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, had also raised concerns about the visit of Shi Yan 6.
Taking to X, Victoria Nuland stated that the US has long supported a prosperous and strong Sri Lanka. The collaboration continues at #UNGA. Nuland met Ali Sabry and discussed U.S. human rights, economic assistance, and their shared vision for a free and more open Indo-Pacific.
Sabry told Nuland that Sri Lanka had also worked out an SOP to be followed by foreign vessels as well as aircraft in carrying out any activity in Sri Lanka’s territory, per the Daily Mirror report.
Reportedly, he informed her that Sri Lanka was even-handed in the approach for all countries and couldn’t exclude China. The leaders met on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly (known as UNGA).
In 2022, S Jaishankar, the External Affairs Minister, when he was commenting on a spy vessel from China dubbed the Yuan Wang-5 that had docked in Sri Lanka, said that developments that potentially have a bearing on Indian security are of interest to them.
What happens in the neighbourhood, especially developments that have a bearing on security, are of interest, Jaishankar clarified during a joint press conference held after the ninth India-Thailand Joint Commission Meeting.
India expressed security concerns about the docking of the vessel at Sri Lanka’s port since it was reflected as a research vessel that could map the ocean bed, critical to anti-sub operations of China’s Navy. The Chinese research vessel had reportedly docked at Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka.
References: NDTV, ANI
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