US not for missile base in Trincomalee: Sri Lanka

January 21st, 2009 - 2:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Jan 21 (IANS) Sri Lanka has said that the US has “no intention of stationing its missiles” in the eastern port city of Trincomalee.Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has denied allegations that the recent visit by a high-level US Pacific Fleet Command delegation to the eastern province was linked to a possible missile deployment.

Responding to a statement by the radical Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), Bogollagama said Tuesday that Sri Lanka had not agreed with any foreign country to set up a missile defence system in Trincomalee district, home to a renowned natural harbour.

“There was no such request, discussion or indication,” Bogollagama said in parliament.

JVP parliamentary group leader Anurakumara Dissanayaka Tuesday alleged that the prime motive of the US military delegation was to lay the groundwork for setting up a missile base in Trincomalee.

Refuting the JVP claims, Bogollagama said the US delegation led by Major General Thomas L. Conant had come to Sri Lanka on the government’s request purely on a humanitarian mission.

“The objective of their visit was to engage in school rehabilitation project in the eastern province and not to carry out any military operation in Sri Lanka,” Bogollagama said.

Stressing that no defence agreement was signed by Sri Lanka with the US delegation, the minister said the US Pacific Fleet Command “has no intention of using Sri Lankan territory for the US military activities”.

According to foreign ministry sources, the US delegation had discussions on the security situation with the heads of Sri Lankan security forces.

The US delegation also met Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesadurai Chandrakanthan.

In 2007, Sri Lankan troops recaptured the eastern province that comprises Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Amparai districts from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Sri Lanka is among the 89 countries with which the US has entered into the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA).

The US last year announced the launch of a new multi-year initiative, funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), to promote economic growth in Sri Lanka’s east.

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