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.
London Bridge Down: Death of Queen Elizabeth brings a moment of reckoning for Britain
LONDON: Queen Elizabeth II has died in Scotland aged 96 after battling health problems since last October, the Royal Family announced Thursday. Doctors had placed the queen under medical supervision at Balmoral Castle, her estate in the Scottish Highlands.
Buckingham Palace has just released the following statement: “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”
Her close family rushed to her bedside as doctors grew “concerned” about her health on Thursday, Buckingham Palace said. Her grandson and his wife, Harry and Meghan Markle – who had a public showdown with the Palace, flew in from Canada.
According to news agency AFP, the Queen pulled out of a planned meeting with her senior political advisors on Wednesday, after being told to rest. The previous day she had audiences at Balmoral – her Scottish Highlands retreat, with outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson and appointed his successor, Liz Truss.
In recent months, the Queen appeared visibly frail and had a series of withdrawals from public engagements. She had taken to walking with a stick and was also seen touring the Chelsea Flower Show in a motorized buggy.
In June, the UK came together for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the British throne. Her husband, Prince Phillip, died last year at the age of 99, two months before his 100th birthday.
Queen Elizabeth II’s tenure as head of state spanned post-war austerity, the transition from empire to Commonwealth, the end of the Cold War and the UK’s entry into – and withdrawal from – the European Union.
Her reign spanned 15 prime ministers starting with Winston Churchill, born in 1874, and including Liz Truss, born 101 years later in 1975, and appointed by the Queen earlier this week. She held weekly audiences with her prime minister throughout her reign.
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,”