Written by Staff Writer
16 Oct, 2020 | 9:07 pm
COLOMBO (News1st): The US State Secretary and Defence Secretary Mark Esper are scheduled to visit India on the 26th and 27th of October.
During their two-day visit, they will engage in bilateral discussions with Indian Foreign Affairs Minister S. Jayashankar and defence minister Ranjith Singh.
The discussion that has been dubbed as 2 plus 2, is expected to revolve around decisive matters concerning the Indo-Pacific policy.
The US has said it is of the stance that the Indian Ocean must be a free zone without interference.
A broad discussion had taken place in this regard during a meeting in Tokyo between the foreign ministers of India, US, Japan and Australia.
The discussion between India and the US is scheduled to take place following the meeting between the four nations.
Newspaper reports cited Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colambage as saying there is a higher possibility that the US State Secretary may make a brief stop in the country following the Indian tour.
Upon inquiries made by News 1st, the US Embassy in Colombo said that the arrival of the US State Secretary is not officially confirmed yet.
Although Mike Pompeo was expected to visit the country in June last year, the tour was called off amidst heavy objection against the ACSA and SOFA agreements.
A committee led by Professor Lalithasiri Gunaruwan informed the President that the MCC agreement that has already been drafted, is in violation of the constitution.
Several parties have pointed out that the US has drawn attention towards several projects including electricity and education, although the MCC agreement only proposes projects concerning land administration and public transport.
Following the recently-concluded parliamentary election, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz had called on education minister Professor G.L. Peiris and minister of power Dullas Alahapperuma.
Following these meetings, it was said that the US is willing to lend its support towards developing the education, power and energy sectors in Sri Lanka.
The SOFA agreement that would pave the way for US military officials to enter and remain in the country had been subjected to severe criticism in the past.
However, the US Ambassador who clarified the matter a few months ago said this agreement would not allow US military officials to enter Sri Lanka and remain in the country.
The pact known as the Visiting Forces Agreement would allow US forces to enter and leave the country.
While various views are being expressed in the country over both agreements, reports indicate that the US State Secretary may visit the country in near future.
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