Maithri Supports Ranil in US

Maithri Supports Ranil in US

Sri Lanka is back in the geopolitical spotlight ahead of elections slated for later this year, and former President Maithripala Sirisena says Washington should be paying attention., reported the Washington Times.



Maithrepala Sirisena met  Deputy Secretary of the US Department of State, Afreen Akhter in Washington DC

Outside powers — specifically China — are exerting influence amid what Mr. Sirisena says is a moment of “great instability” for his country, a teardrop-shaped island just off India‘s southeastern coast that has become entangled in great power politics between Washington and Beijing in recent years.

Mr. Sirisena, who was president from 2015 to 2019, emphasized during a meeting with The Washington Times that his country’s citizens are enduring “abject poverty” trying to recover from a crippling foreign debt crisis, soaring inflation, a contracting economy and shortages of food, fuel and other basics.


Bilateral Cooperation ;

The former president said his goal in visiting Washington this week — a trip that included a meeting with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Afreen Akhter — was to inspire deeper bilateral cooperation and spur greater U.S. support for Sri Lanka.

“The main objective of this visit is to convince the State Department to save Sri Lanka from that situation and work together,” Mr. Sirisena said.

The Biden administration has announced roughly $300 million in aid for Sri Lanka, including loans for small businesses, since the severe economic downturn that began in 2022. But the geopolitics surrounding the aid are complex in a country of 22 million still recovering from a brutal quarter-century civil war that only ended in 2009.

Hambanthota-Belt and Road  

U.S. officials point to Sri Lanka as a case study in the debt trap that can come with participating in China‘s massive “Belt and Road” global infrastructure program, launched in 2017. That was the year Sri Lanka was pressured into effectively selling control of its port of Hambantota to a Chinese state-owned company after falling behind on $1.5 billion in Belt and Road financing.

Sri Lankan officials have also battled with their Chinese counterparts over Beijing’s desire to send submarines and other military ships through Hambantota — seen as a critical location to challenge rival India in and around the Indian Ocean.

The U.S.-China friction of recent years has also been felt in Sri Lanka as well.

Sri Lanka has emerged as a key counterterrorism partner for the United States since a group of Sri Lankans inspired by the Islamic State terror group killed 269 people with six near-simultaneous suicide bombings in Christian churches and tourist hotels on Easter Sunday in 2019.

“There is a lot of cooperation between the current government in Sri Lanka and the U.S. in terms of counterterrorism,” Mr. Sirisena told The Times, who said he hopes the relationship will lead to greater economic engagement from Washington.

The plea comes just months ahead of Sri Lanka‘s presidential election, which is likely to occur in November.

The Associated Press has reported that incumbent President Ranil Wickremesinghe could run again, seeking a mandate for his tough economic stabilization program designed to bring down inflation and restore economic growth.


The caments made by former President Sirisena indicates very much that he is very much in alignment with the thinking of current President Ranil Wickramasingha .




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