US Secretary of State may be in for a fiery meeting with Sri Lankan leaders in Colombo this week, with a report claiming that the Sri Lankan officials will hit back at US calls on human rights, justice and economic policies.
US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Dean R. Thompson said earlier in the week that Mike Pompeo will raise issues of “democratic governance, human rights, reconciliation, religious freedom, and justice,” adding that Colombo is “at a point to make some choices about where they head”.
The Daily Express, however, cited a ‘top foreign ministry official’ as stating that Sri Lanka’s war crimes accused president and prime minister will push back.
“All the three leaders will tell the ranking US official politely that it is not for outsiders to tell Sri Lankans how to run their country,” said the official, who spoke on anonymity.
The Sri Lankan leaders will also reportedly cite the results of recent presidential and parliamentary elections, which saw the return of the hardline Sinhala-Buddhist Rajapaksa regime, as “mandates… that any solution to the ethnic question will have to be acceptable to the majority community in Sri Lanka”.
Speaking on Sri Lanka’s economy, Thompson had also said that the US will “encourage Sri Lanka to review the options we offer for transparent and sustainable economic development in contrast to discriminatory and opaque practices”.
“We urge Sri Lanka to make difficult but necessary decisions to secure its economic independence for long-term prosperity, and we stand ready to partner with Sri Lanka for its economic development and growth,” he added.
“All countries, including the US, are welcome to invest in Sri Lanka. If the US and others match China, their offers would be considered,” another foreign ministry official however told the Daily Express, defending China’s heavy investment in the region.
“If he raises the debt trap issue, we have facts and figures to show that the debt to China is only 5.6 billion USD out of a total external debt of 55 billion USD (which is 10%). The US owes China much more – USD 1 trillion.”
See more from the Daily Express here.
Earlier this week Amnesty International called on the US Secretary of State to address the 'deteriorating human rights situation' in Sri Lanka during his visit. "The harassment and arrest of human rights defenders, the failure to hold human rights violators accountable, and the continued marginalisation of minority communities under the present government threatens the prospects for a peaceful, prosperous future for the country," Amnesty wrote.
Pompeo’s trip will see him visit New Delhi and stop in Colombo on his way to the Maldives. He is due on Colombo on October 27th and will meet with both Gotabaya and Mahinda Rajapaksa.