Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for Sri Lanka

Newsline: Sri Lanka president holds talks with foreign diplomats on debt restructuring

Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe held talks with foreign diplomats, the island nation’s government said in a statement on Thursday. (https://news.yahoo.com/sri-lanka-president-holds-talks-110646893.html) The talks focused on debt restructuring and the International Monetary Fund programme aimed to tackled the country’s economic crisis, according to the statement.

Newsline: India lashes out at Chinese Ambassador’s views on Sri Lanka

In response to the remarks of Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said on Saturday that his views were a violation of basic diplomatic etiquette and maybe a personal trait or reflecting a larger national attitude. The Indian High Commission also said that Qi’s view of Sri Lanka’s northern neighbour may be coloured by how his own country behaves. The High Commission, which made a series of tweets, also referred to Qi’s remarks on the visit of a Chinese spy vessel to Hambantota port in Sri Lanka and said his imputing a geopolitical context to the visit of a purported scientific research vessel is a giveaway. “We have noted the remarks of the Chinese Ambassador. His violation of basic diplomatic etiquette may be a personal trait or reflecting a larger national attitude. His view of Sri Lanka’s northern neighbour may be coloured by how his own country behaves. India, we assure him,is very different. His imputing a geopolitical context to the visit of a purported scientific research vessel is a giveaway,” the Indian High Commission said. (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/india-lashes-out-at-chinese-ambassador-s-views-on-india-sri-lanka-relations/ar-AA11b71g) The High Commission also referred to reports of China’s debt-trap diplomacy and said “opaqueness and debt-driven agendas are now a major challenge specially for smaller nations”. It said Sri Lanka, which is facing an unprecedented economic crisis, needs support, not unwanted pressure or unnecessary controversies to serve another country’s agenda.

Newsline: Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry asks China to postpone ship visit after India protests

Sri Lanka says it has asked China to defer a planned visit of a Chinese ship to the island country after initially approving its arrival this week, yielding to diplomatic pressure from neighbour India to keep the military vessel out. Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said on July 12 it had approved the ship’s arrival for this month. “Subsequently in light of the need for further consultations, the ministry has communicated to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Colombo to defer the visit of the said vessel to the Hambantota port,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/8/9/sri-lanka-asks-china-to-postpone-ship-visit-after-india-protests) Asked about the controversy over the ship, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular news briefing that China’s relations with Sri Lanka were “not targeted at third parties”. Wenbin told reporters it is “completely unjustified for certain countries to cite the so-called ‘security concerns’ to pressure Sri Lanka”. The Yuan Wang 5 was due to arrive on Thursday at the Chinese-built and leased Hambantota port in Sri Lanka’s south for five days for replenishment. It is currently sailing in the east Indian Ocean, according to Refinitiv Eikon. Foreign security analysts describe the Yuan Wang 5 as one of China’s latest generation space-tracking ships, used to monitor satellite, rocket and intercontinental ballistic missile launches. The Pentagon says Yuan Wang ships are operated by the Strategic Support Force of the People’s Liberation Army. India said late last month it was monitoring the planned visit of the ship, adding that New Delhi would protect its security and economic interests. India also lodged a verbal protest with the Sri Lankan government. New Delhi fears its bigger and more powerful rival China will use Hambantota as a military base in India’s back yard. The $1.5bn port is near the main shipping route from Asia to Europe.

Newsline: 20 people detained for George Floyd protest outside US Embassy in Colombo

Sri Lankan police on Tuesday arrested 20 people who who attempted to stage a protest outside the US Embassy. The arrested people were the activists of the Frontline Socialist Party. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/76283277.cms) They had gathered around the vicinity of the US Embassy. The police said they had obtained a court order preventing the gathering of protesters near the US embassy.

Newsline: Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka Briefly Suspended From Twitter

The Chinese embassy in Sri Lanka was temporarily banned from Twitter over what Twitter later claimed was a “systematic mistake,” that the embassy then chose to go on a little righteous rant about free speech needing to be honored. The Embassy put out a press release more or less saying the same thing: Twitter suspended the official account of the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka (@ChinaEmbSL), without informing any specific reason. The Embassy made solemn representation to Twitter twice, requesting the latter to clarify and correct their decision, to avoid any misunderstanding and random association in the public. (https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20200420/17274544333/chinese-embassy-gets-briefly-suspended-twitter-insists-free-speech-must-be-honored-platform-banned-across-china.shtml) Twitter officially replied the Embassy for a “systematic mistake”, apologized and unsuspended the Embassy’s account. The Embassy feels regretful to this “systematic mistake”, and would like to reiterate that the “Freedom of Speech” must be honored, while not be misused to spread groundless, racial or hatred speech, nor be treated with “Double Standards”.

Newsline: Japanese, Sri Lankan Embassies Mull Evacuation of Citizens Amid Coronavirus Panic

The Japanese Embassy in Beijing said the initial evacuation is limited to those in Wuhan. Evacuees are expected to include employees of Honda Motor Co., Tokyo Electron, Aeon Co. and other Japanese companies operating in Wuhan. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his Cabinet will designate the new coronavirus as an infectious disease subject to forced hospitalization and isolation. Such preventative measures appear to be in preparation for the evacuation. (https://thediplomat.com/2020/01/countries-evaluate-evacuation-of-citizens-amid-wuhan-coronavirus-panic/) Sri Lankan embassy in Beijing has applied for a Sri Lankan Airlines plane to be allowed to land at the Wuhan airport to airlift home 32 Sri Lankan students and their family members. The foreign ministry also said it was working to bring back all other Sri Lankan students throughout China. About 860 Sri Lankan students are in China.

Newsline: Swiss embassy employee in Sri Lanka granted bail

A court in Sri Lanka has granted bail to a Swiss embassy staff member who had been arrested two weeks ago on charges that she stoked anti-government sentiment and fabricated evidence, local media reported. The local television channel Sirasa reported her release, according to the Associated Press. The employee, a Sri Lankan national, claimed that she had been abducted on November 25 and threatened by her captors in an alleged effort to get her to disclose “embassy-related information”. (https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/diplomatic-spat—-_swiss-embassy-employee-in-sri-lanka-granted-bail/45463886) The incident took place a day after a senior Sri Lankan police officer arrived in Switzerland to apply for asylum. The Swiss government condemned the alleged attack as “unacceptable” and summoned the Sri Lankan ambassador. The Sri Lankan authorities have said they have evidence that contradicts the woman’s version of events. Prior to her arrest, a court blocked her from leaving the country. Upon her detention, Swiss diplomats appealed for her transfer to a hospital on health and humanitarian grounds. The Swiss foreign ministry also announced it would dispatch a Swiss diplomat, Jörg Frieden, to Colombo in a bid to break the diplomatic deadlock.

Newsline: Sri Lanka president says he is ‘victim’ of Swiss kidnap claim

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said Thursday the alleged kidnapping of a Swiss embassy staffer which triggered a diplomatic spat between Colombo and Bern had been concocted to discredit his election victory. (https://news.yahoo.com/sri-lanka-president-says-victim-swiss-kidnap-claim-130938877.html) A Sri Lankan national working for the Swiss mission in Colombo was arrested Monday for allegedly falsely claiming she had been abducted and sexually assaulted by unidentified attackers on November 25. The alleged abduction happened a day after a Sri Lankan police inspector investigating cases involving the Rajapaksa family sought asylum in Switzerland. Gotabaya Rajapaksa — who was elected president last month — told Colombo-based foreign correspondents Thursday that he was the real “victim” of the saga. “In this case, the victim is me because immediately after my election, this story came up,” he said, giving details of the Swiss embassy staffer’s movements on the day she claimed she was held against her will. “It is very clear it is a planned thing to discredit me and the government.” Rajapaksa said he did not believe the Swiss embassy itself had any role in making the allegations, and insisted he did not want anyone to create tensions between the two countries. Switzerland on Monday criticised the embassy worker’s arrest and “lack of due process in the case”, and asked for evidence that she had faked her claims. Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis also spoke to his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena about the case on Wednesday, his ministry said. Cassis informed Gunawardena that Bern had sent an experienced diplomat, Jorg Frieden, to oversee the efforts to clarify the facts and resolve the situation, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Newsline: Swiss raise alarm over ‘attack’ on Sri Lanka embassy employee

Swiss authorities have hit out at the detention of an employee of the country’s embassy in Sri Lanka, branding the development “grave and unacceptable”. A spokesman for Switzerland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday that the embassy employee was “detained against her will on the street and threatened at length” in an attempt to pressure her into releasing information. “Switzerland views the incident as a very grave and unacceptable attack on one of its diplomatic missions and their employees,” the spokesman said. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/11/swiss-raise-alarm-attack-sri-lanka-embassy-employee-191128061621424.html) Switzerland reported the incident to Sri Lankan authorities, the spokesman added, and have called on them to launch an investigation into it. Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Switzerland was meanwhile, summoned to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Newsline: Ambassador says US had no prior knowledge of Sri Lanka threat

The U.S. had no prior knowledge of the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka that killed over 350 people, the American ambassador said Apr. 24, despite local claims that foreign officials had been warned an attack was looming. As the investigation into the Islamic State-claimed attack continues, FBI agents and U.S. military personnel are in Sri Lanka assisting the probe, Ambassador Alaina Teplitz said. While declining to say whether U.S. officials had intelligence on the local extremists and their leader who allegedly carried out the assault, Teplitz said America remained concerned over militants at large. She also said that “clearly there was some failure in the system” that caused Sri Lankan officials to fail to share the warnings they received prior to the attack. (https://www.kansas.com/news/nation-world/article229616629.html) “I can tell you definitively we were not warned and we did not have any prior knowledge of this,” Teplitz told foreign journalists from her office at the U.S. Embassy in Colombo. “We did not know because believe me, if we had, we would have tried to do something about it.”