Sri Lanka will unveil the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) shortly setting out guidelines to be followed by foreign ships or aircraft in making a port of call in Sri Lanka and carrying out activities in territorial waters, a top source was quoted by Sri Lankan media reports.This is seen as an attempt to assuage India even while supporting Chinese naval vessels entry into Indian ocean region.
The balancing of relations between India and China is now the corner stone of the island nation’s so called non aligned foreign policy according to experts
President RanilWickremesinghe announced it for the first time while making his remarks at the Ocean Nations: The 3rd Annual Indo-Pacific Islands Dialogue on the sideline of the UN General Assembly a few days ago.
The Sri Lankan President ruled out that no spy vessel was in Sri Lanka, despite concerns raised by another country though there are not many takers from the Sri Lankan formulation in India.
Asked about the current status of the application of the SOP, a top source familiar with the process told Daily Mirror that it had evolved but would be unveiled soon for the public to know. It stipulates the kind of vessels and aircraft allowed in Sri Lankan territory, the number of days to stay in the country and the type of activities allowed tobe undertaken.
The SOP has been worked out after some powers, particularly India, raised concerns about the visit of Chinese research and military vessels in Sri Lankan waters. When working out the SOP, the amendments proposed by India have also been incorporated.
Two Chinese research vessels Shi Yan 6 and Xiang Yang Hong 03 are expected to visit Sri Lanka in October, this year and January, next year. It is part of an agreement signed by the China Academy of Science and the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA).