Sri Lanka Navy Chief: “Chinese presence in Sri Lanka is purely economic. Nothing against India can happen in Sri Lanka”
New Delhi, 30 January 2017
Sri Lanka Navy Chief Vice Admiral RC Wijegunaratne, today assured India about presence of Chinese nuclear submarines in Sri Lanka that their presence is just economic. Both countries share common maritime boundary and India is Sri Lanka’s only neighbor. When asked about presence of nuclear submarines of Chinese PLA Navy in Srilanka, Vice Admiral RC Wijegunaratne, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy said, “We assure Indian Government and Indian leadership that nothing against India can happen in Sri Lanka. Chinese presence in Srilanka is purely economical and we have invited the Indian companies also to take part in various new projects that are coming up around the country specially in the southern port of Hambantota”.
Vice Admiral RC Wijegunaratne, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy is on an official visit to India from 29 January to 02 February 2017. The visit is aimed at consolidating bilateral naval relations between India and Sri Lanka and to explore new avenues for naval cooperation. “Indian Navy and Srilankan Navy go back a long way and have a very healthy and deep rooted cooperation. We train a large number of naval personnels. We have provided them assets. We carry out exercises together and relationship has been growing from strength to strength. We are very happy to work shoulder to shoulder with our colleagues in Srilankan Navy”, Admiral Sunil Lanba said after welcoming his Sri Lankan counterpart.
Commander, Sri Lankan Navy will hold bilateral discussions with Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff 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, Indian Coast Guard. Calls on of the Minister of State for Defence and Defence Secretary have also been scheduled as part of his official meetings in New Delhi.
“Interaction between our two countries is very close Navy to Navy and Navy to Coastguard. Srilanka and India has a common maritime boundary if I say Srilanka has only one neighbor that is India. We get lot of training from Indian Navy from 1958 that our men and officers are trained in India”. “So the relationship between India and Srilanka is relationship that we have between a teacher and a student for if I say in Sanskrit Guru Shishya. So this is my time to come and see my teachers in Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard and thank them for all the support that they have given through our kind that we were looking for”.
Sri Lanka Navy Chief VAdm RC Wijegubaratne called on Rajendra Singh, DG ICG in New Delhi
Naval cooperation between India and Sri Lanka has been traditionally strong, encompassing a wide span which includes operational interactions through bilateral exercises, Training, Port Calls, Hydrographic co-operation, Special Forces interactions, 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.
But of late, trolling of Indian waters by Chinese submarines and docking at Sri Lankan port Hambantota sent waves of concern to India. However, Admiral RC Wijegunaratne reassured by saying that, “till date no agreement has been has been signed. Our Prime Minister has categorically said that the only presence in Hanbantota will be of Srilanka Navy. Srilanka Navy will look after the security of that”.
In addition to New Delhi, the Admiral is also scheduled to proceed to Goa where he will be visiting Naval War College and Goa Shipyard Limited besides interacting with Flag Officer Commanding Goa Area. The Admiral would further visit the Training Command of the Indian Navy based at Kochi, where he would be briefed on training aspects and would also visit various training facilities/ professional schools. During his visit to Kochi, the Admiral would also interact with Sri Lankan Naval personnel undergoing training in India. The Commander, Sri Lankan Navy’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.
Admiral RC Wijegunaratnealso called on the Rajendra Singh, DG, ICG. Admiral Wijegunaratnealso hoped that the long tradition of Sri Lakans going to prestigious staff college in Wellington in Tamil Nadu would be resumed soon.
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 15 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.