with Washington soon
Access to Lanka's ports, airports, airspace
for training, hardware
By Our Diplomatic Editor
Increasing military ties between United States and Sri Lanka will
see the two nations entering into a formal defence pact for enhanced
The Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement, as it has been officially
termed, will enable the United States to utilise Sri Lanka's ports,
airports and air space. As a prelude to the signing of the agreement
scheduled for July, this year, United States Naval ships have been
calling at the Colombo Port for bunkering as well as to enable sailors
to go on shore leave.
In return for
the facilities offered, Sri Lanka is to receive military assistance
from the United States including increased training facilities and
equipment. The training, which will encompass joint exercises with
United States Armed Forces, will focus on counter terrorism and
related activity. The agreement will be worked out on the basis
of the use of Sri Lanka's ports, airports, and air space to be considered
hire-charges that will be converted for military hardware.
nor Washington is willing to confirm the release of two maritime
surveillance aircraft and one patrol ship to intensify surveillance
over the eastern seas of Sri Lanka. The outlines of the proposed
agreement were finalized when a four-member team of military and
legal personnel from the United States visited Sri Lanka last month.
The drafts are now being studied by the State Department in Washington
and the Defence and Foreign Ministries in Colombo.
After its war against terrorism following the September 11 attacks,
the United States has been offering enhanced military support to
Sri Lanka and several other countries. The US has entered into similar
Agreements with more than 50 countries in its worldwide fight against
terrorism. Government sources say the role of the US, particularly
in the backdrop of allowing an Interim Administration to the LTTE
in the north and east, would bolster stability and security. They
say this will be further enhanced by the presence of India in Trincomalee
through the state owned Indian Oil Corporation which has agreed
to lease ten of the 99 World War II oil storage tanks at China Bay.