Britain rules out Defence Pact with Sri Lanka

Premature says Hugo Swire, willing to engage across the board

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by Zacki Jabbar

Britain has ruled out entering into a Defence Pact with Sri Lanka for the moment, saying it is premature .

British  Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hugo Swire said in Colombo on Saturday, that his country would engage across the board in training the Sri Lankan army to evolve into a modern 21st century unit, but it was ‘premature’ to take that giant leap towards a fully fledged defence agreement.

“In terms of defence, we are re-engaging with our non resident Defence Attache based in New Delhi, establishing contacts with the Sri Lankan military right across the board. It is all part of what we are doing in other countries such as Burma, where our military experiences are being imparted.”

A military’s role first and foremost was to defend its borders and every military in every democracy should learn how to operate in a democratic environment and be responsible to the democratically elected government of the day, Swire pointed out, adding that Britain would train the Sri Lankan security forces on how to operate in a democratic country.

He welcomed the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe governments decision to provide more troops for peace keeping operations. “The US and the UK feel that more often than not we have to do the heavy lifting in terms of international peace keeping. We would like our friends across the world to step up to the plate. I think it would also be good for the Sri Lankan military and also for the country’s reputation.”