Presence of Chinese submarines in Sri Lanka purely for economic reasons: Navy chief

Sri Lankan Navy chief Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne

Sri Lankan Navy chief Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne has assured India that the presence of Chinese nuclear submarines in his country was “purely economic reasons” even as India’s views the development with suspicion.

“The age-old tradition of Sri Lankans going to staff college in Wellington in Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu has stopped. We are negotiating with India to try and resume this process”, Wijegunaratne said.

Vice Admiral RC Wijegunaratne, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, is on an official visit to India from January 29 to February 2. The visit is aimed at consolidating bilateral naval relations between India and Sri Lanka and exploring new avenues for naval cooperation.

The commander of the Sri Lankan Navy held bilateral discussions with Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba and other senior officials of the Indian Navy on 30 January 2017. The Admiral is also scheduled to meet the Chief of the Air Staff, Chief of the Army Staff as well as the Director General of the Indian Coast Guard. Calling on the Minister of State for Defence and Defence Secretary have also been scheduled as part of his official meetings in New Delhi.

Naval cooperation between India and Sri Lanka has been traditionally strong, encompassing a wide range of issues including operational interactions through bilateral exercises, training, port calls, hydrographic co-operation, interactions among special forces, capability building and capacity augmentation initiatives. Two Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessels (AOPVs) are also being constructed for the Sri Lankan Navy at M/s Goa Shipyard Limited.

In addition to New Delhi, the Admiral is also scheduled to proceed to Goa where he will be visiting Naval War College and the Goa Shipyard Limited, besides interacting with Flag Officer Commanding of Goa Area. The Admiral would further visit the Training Command of the Indian Navy based in Kochi, where he would be briefed on training aspects and would also visit various training facilities and professional schools. During his visit to Kochi, the Admiral would also interact with the Sri Lankan Naval personnel undergoing training in India.

The Sri Lankan Navy Commander’s visit follows closely on the visit of the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba’s visit to Sri Lanka wherein he also participated in the 7th International Maritime Conference, Galle Dialogue 2016.

(Source: India Today)