Gotabaya's China visit postponed as Russian FM's visit to Colombo coincides with schedule

[TamilNet, Saturday, 04 January 2020, 23:46 GMT]
SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s scheduled visit to China on 14 and 15 January 2020 has been postponed, media reports in Colombo said on Friday. Mr Rajapaksa visited New Delhi, a major strategic partner of the USA within two-weeks since getting elected as the SL president in November 2019. In the meantime, Chinese President Xi Jinping dispatched a special envoy in December 2019 to invite Mr Rajapaksa to China. The trip, scheduled to take place in January, has now been postponed due to the coinciding visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is expected in Colombo on 14 January. However, media reports in Colombo were trying to give the impression that the re-scheduling was taking place at Beijing’s request.

The Russian Foreign Minister is visiting Colombo before proceeding to New Delhi on 15 January.

Lavrov’s visit comes after Russia and China jointly conducted naval training with Iran in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman in December 2019 and amidst increased tensions between the USA and Iran in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Gotabaya Rajapaksa was making his maiden speech to the SL Parliament on Friday.

“One of the main reasons for Sri Lanka’s renowned standing was our country’s unique location in the ocean connecting the east and west. We can benefit from this advantage, in the same way, today,” he said.

Gotabaya, talking about the recent focus on the island in terms of global geopolitics, was avoiding the phrases, ‘Indian Ocean’ or ‘Indo-Pacific’, in his speech.

The Colombo Establishment was also hinting at promoting the terms ‘Sri Lankan Sea’ or ‘Sea of Lanka’ through its media proxies.

In the meantime, the SL President wants to woo the support of powerful countries, which could influence the 47-member UN Human Rights Council to water-down and ‘renegotiate’ the human rights undertakings the SL State had made before the UN Human Rights Council in September 2015.

The previous regime co-sponsored the so-called ‘consensus resolution’ 30/1, which was drafted by the US-aligned countries during the Obama Administration.

In the following years, the USA and its partners continued to extend more ‘time and space’ to the SL State at the UNHRC through follow-up resolutions during the regime of Maithiripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickramasinghe.

Now, Gotabaya Rajapaksa wants to do away with specific commitments that he views as ‘damaging’ the image of the SL military and the so-called erosion of the sovereignty of genocidal Sri Lanka.

SL Attorney General’s Department, SL Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the office of the SL Prime Minister are reportedly working on a proposal to ‘restructure’ the UNHRC commitments in the forthcoming UNHRC session.

The 47 member states during the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council (24 February - 20 March 2020) are going to be the following: Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, Czechia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Libya, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Slovakia, Somalia, Spain, Sudan, Togo, Ukraine, Uruguay and Venezuela.


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