The United States has insisted that there is no plan to establish a military base in Sri Lanka.
The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Alaina B. Teplitz said that negotiations with Sri Lanka on a defence agreement only aim to facilitate cooperation.
“Blatant misinformation. There is no plan or intention to establish a US base in Sri Lanka. VFA negotiations only aim to facilitate cooperation and any agreement will fully respect the sovereignty of Sri Lanka,” Teplitz said in response to some media reports over the negotiations.
Concerns have been raised that the agreement will pose a serious threat to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty.
However, US Embassy Spokesperson Nancy VanHorn said on Sunday that Sri Lanka would retain all sovereign rights to approve or deny entry or exit of US personnel, vessels, and aircraft into Sri Lanka’s territory and territorial waters/airspace.
She recalled that in 1995, the US and Sri Lanka concluded the agreement on the status of US Department of Defence (DoD) military personnel and civilian employees who visit Sri Lanka for exercises or official duties.
“We have proposed amending this agreement to include some additional privileges, such as the mutual recognition of professional licenses, how US military personnel and DoD civilians can visit Sri Lanka, fees for support services rendered, and regulations for hiring foreign and local contractors. These updates will streamline processes that are already in place and will facilitate collaboration with the Sri Lankan military on counterterrorism practices, maritime security, and other issues of common concern,” she said.
She also said that these types of agreements are standard practice between global partners and the US, which has similar agreements with more than 100 other nations around the world.
The US Embassy Spokesperson said that these agreements facilitate training, exercises, and exchanges, as mutually agreed and for the benefit of both countries, by standardising routine administrative procedures. (Colombo Gazette)