Sri Lanka will adopt an “India first approach” as its new foreign policy plank and protect New Delhi’s strategic security interests, the country’s Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colombage has said as he sought to allay concerns amid China’s growing presence in the island nation.
Admiral Colombage became the first-ever foreign secretary from a military background when he was appointed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to head the Foreign Ministry on August 14.
In an interview published by Daily Mirror on Wednesday, Colombage said Sri Lanka is to adopt an ‘India first approach’ as its new regional foreign policy plank.
“That means Sri Lanka will not do anything harmful to India’s strategic security interests,” said Colombage, who was the chief of the Sri Lanka Navy between 2012-14 and later became a foreign policy analyst mostly on the Chinese initiatives in Sri Lanka and the immediate region.
Colombage said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would have an India first approach as the key to strategic security.
”China is the second-largest economy and India is considered the sixth-largest. In 2018 India was the world’s fastest-growing economy. That means we are between two economic giants,” he said.
“Sri Lanka cannot afford, should not afford and will not afford any particular country to use it as a staging area to do anything against another country, especially so India,” he said.
Commenting on the Chinese investment in the southern port of Hambantota, Colombage says that Sri Lanka had offered India Hambantota first.
India did not undertake it for whatever reason, then it went to a Chinese company, he said.
Now we have given 85 per cent stake of Hambantota port to China Merchant Holding Company. That should be limited to commercial activities. It is zero for military purposes,” he said.
Colombage said that despite opposition from port worker trade unions, President Rajapaksa would go ahead with the memorandum of cooperation signed with India on the Colombo Port’s Eastern terminal.
Colombo Port is the largest and busiest port in Sri Lanka. Located on the southwestern shores on the Kelani River, it serves as an important terminal in Asia due to its strategic location in the Indian Ocean.
The previous Sirisena government had signed a “memorandum of cooperation” (MOC) with India and Japan for a tripartite effort to develop the terminal which is located just next to the USD 500 million Chinese-run Colombo International Container Terminal.
”The President has said that he is ready to honour the agreement. As per the new guidance of the President, no national asset is given with total control to any country,” he said.
Colombage said that the Rajapaksa foreign policy shift would mean that Sri Lanka would not be anymore reliant on a West-oriented policy.
The most dynamic foreign office officials would be posted in Sri Lanka’s neighbourhood, in the Middle East, Bangladesh, Africa and ASEAN in line with the new foreign policy shift where the emphasis would be on the neighbourhood.
China has been making significant forays into Sri Lanka, especially in the defence field. Beijing’s activities have caused regional concerns, especially in India.
Sri Lankan in 2017 handed over the Hambantota port to China on a 99-year lease. There are regional concerns, mostly from India, that China may make a military presence at Hambantota, located on a key sea international shipping route.
Bharat Ratna awardee and true gem Lata Mangeshkar Ji is no more
The nightingale of the music industry, Lata Mangeshkar Ji passed away on February 6 at the age of 92 in the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai. She was born on September 29, 1929. Very few singers have achieved the admiration that she did in her life.
She sang thousands of songs in more than 20 different languages. Not only in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan, she was also admired and praised in western countries.
PM Modi was among the first ones to share the sad news. “The kind and caring Lata Didi has left us. She leaves a void in our nation that cannot be filled. The coming generations will remember her as a stalwart of Indian culture, whose melodious voice had an unparalleled ability to mesmerise people,” he tweeted.
Apart from Bharat Ratna, she received numerous honors like the Daughter of the Nation award, the Legion of Honour award from the French government, and many more. Lata Mangeshkar truly was a gift that India will never cease cherishing.
We at Giveupnot pay our heartly tributes to her and wish that “unki aatma ko sadgati prapt ho”, OM SHANTI.
A man in New Zealand finds insects in his Domino’s pizza
A man in West Auckland, New Zealand says he was left feeling sick after allegedly discovering maggots (insects larva) on his takeaway pizza order from Domino’s. However, the Domino’s Pizza outlet where Reginald Thalari says he bought the pizza denied the claim.
On Tuesday afternoon, Thalari purchased four pizzas from Domino’s Pizza outlet in Avondale for his employees. But it was after they had eaten a few slices that Thalari alleges they made a stomach-churning discovery.
“It was disgusting. We ordered four pizzas but when we opened the box with pepperoni we saw maggots on the ham. I felt like spewing, to be honest. If someone says would you like some pizza I think I’ll turn them down next time.”
However, a Domino’s spokesperson said that it is extremely unlikely maggots would have been in store pre-purchase and said it would be “impossible” for eggs to survive the temperature of their ovens.
“Domino’s takes food health and safety extremely seriously, and ensures these standards are upheld through regular audits and inspections of stores throughout the year,” the spokesperson said.
The Domino’s Pizza spokeswoman further said that “Upon learning of this customer’s experience, we contacted the customer directly and have organised a deep clean of the store, as well as for our pest control company to further inspect,”
US Northeast digs out after massive snow storm, Two dead
People across the U.S. Northeast were digging themselves out on Tuesday after a powerful storm blanketed parts of the region with more than 2 feet of snow, prompting airlines to cancel flights and contributing to at least two deaths.
The nor`easter – an East Coast storm whose winds blow from the northeast – cut power to thousands of households, and halted some subway and train service in and around New York City. It dropped about 30 inches (76 cm) of snow in parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania and up to 18 inches (46 cm) in New York City.
The snowy weather was expected to continue in parts of the Northeast, with a stretch from upstate New York to northern Maine hit the hardest, the National Weather Service said in its latest forecast on Tuesday. Snow could develop in the Upper Midwest on Wednesday before the storm runs its course, it said.
In Allentown, Pennsylvania, a 67-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer`s disease was found lying dead in the snow on Monday after wandering away from her home, police said.
A man in Newark, New Jersey, died after being found lying in the snow on Monday, according to police officials, who said the death was not considered suspicious.
In New York City, public transit was coming back to life. Outdoor subway service, which had been suspended, resumed, buses were running on reduced schedules, and the area`s major commuter railroads had resumed partial or full operations.
The city`s LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport, where flights were canceled on Monday, both said they were working to clear the snow and that they expected activity to pick up later on Tuesday.
The storm prompted widespread closings of schools and COVID-19 vaccination sites. In Connecticut, about 10,000 vaccination appointments were canceled on Monday, with plans to reschedule them for later this week.