Sri Lanka Government must decide what needs upgrading: Wells

Alice Wells

A top US official who held talks with government leaders here said it was the prerogative of the Sri Lankan government to clarify the areas under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that needs upgrading after the parliamentary elections.

Deputy Principal Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells told a group of journalists, on completing her visit to Sri Lanka, that nothing was discussed about SOFA during her meetings with Sri Lankan government leaders.

When asked whether anything relating to the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement and SOFA came up during her discussions, she said, “It did not. AQSA was a logistics agreement we negotiated back in 2017. We probably have it with 100 more countries. It is a way we can purchase fuel and share resources without having to jump through bureaucratic hurdles. With regard to SOFA, we have an existing document framework since 1995. After election, perhaps, it will be time whether we can seek the areas of the agreement that are worth upgrading. That is the prerogative.”

Ms. Wells said it military to military cooperation with Sri Lanka was a success story with 18 ship visit.

When asked about the UNHRC process, she said, “We had discussion on broader issues that relates to the commitment to the UNHRC. There were conservations about steps of the government planned to undertake to continue to address issues related to the return of land, to the provision of information to the missing individuals, concerns by minority, and opposition parties over accountability. That came up throughout my conversation today.

She said the US wanted Sri Lanka to have constructive relations with all countries.

“We do not see this as a zero-sum game. Sri Lanka, like many countries, has significant infrastructure needs. It is clear Sri Lanka needs Foreign Direct Investments to stimulate economy and sustain the level of economic growth,” Ms. Wells said.

(Source: Daily Mirror – By Kelum Bandara)