US to direct $39 million to Sri Lanka’s maritime security

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A top US official said yesterday that his country planned to direct US$ 39 million to Sri Lanka to support maritime security, freedom of navigation, and maritime awareness as part of its Bay of Bengal initiative.

Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas J.Vajda made these remarks during an interactive session organized by Pathfinder Foundation in Colombo last evening. He said this would bolster humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief capabilities in South Asia.

The discussion was on Sri Lanka’s role in the Indo-Pacific Region. He said Sri Lanka, as a country at the nexus of Indo-Pacific, had the opportunity to shape the region’s future.

“Under our strategy, we are working with key partners like Sri Lanka to protect and enhance a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific that respects principles such as peaceful resolution of disputes,” he said.

“Our goal, both in terms of our bilateral relationship and our engagement under the Indo-Pacific framework, Sri Lanka, as a country that is empowered and enabled through its partnership with the US,” he said.

He said the military of the two countries train together in many capacities including disaster response, humanitarian aid and maritime security.

“The joint training were designed to be mutually beneficial and to help transition the Sri Lankan military to a peacetime force,” he said.

Commenting on development cooperation, he said the US was in the process of developing its development financial capabilities. He emphasized that the US made significant progress towards a Millennium Challenge Corporation compact with Sri Lanka.

He said the US was keenly interested in working with Sri Lanka and like-minded partners on assistance projects that provide high-quality infrastructure responsive to the country’s genuine needs while avoiding vulnerability associated with excess indebtedness to a single lender.

(Source: Daily Mirror – By Kelum Bandara)