US Pacific Chief assures support for SL Navy


By Shamindra Ferdinando

US Pacific Commander Admiral Robert F. Willard has assured Sri Lankan Navy Chief Vice Admiral Somathilake Dissanayake of continued US support in the post-war era.

On the sidelines of the recently concluded Shangri-La Dialouge, the Vice Admiral Dissanayake called on Admiral Willard in Singapore.

Admiral Willard served as Commander of the US Pacific Fleet from May 8, 2007 to Sept. 25, 2009 before taking the current position.

Defence sources told The Island that the government of Sri Lanka always appreciated the supported given by the US during its successful war against the LTTE.

Admiral Willard inquired about the post-war developments, with regard to the SLN, particularly SLNS Samudura, formerly USCGS ‘Courageous’ , one of the vessels involved in the destruction of LTTE ships .

The SLN Chief said due to restoration of peace US vessels could visit Sri Lankan ports.

External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris led the Sri Lankan delegation. Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had to quit the delegation due to death of a garment worker at the hands of the police in Katunayake. Responding to a  query by The Island, sources said that the Defence Secretary was scheduled to meet several senior politicians and officials to explain recent developments.

Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, the Maldives, New Zealand, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam participated in the three-day summit beginning June 3.

The Shangri-La Dialogue regarded the most important regular gathering of defence professionals in the region has now become a vital event for Asia-Pacific defence ministers and their civilian and military chiefs of staff.

The SDLN Chief also accompanied the External Affairs for meetings with Dr. Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Defence of Singapore, K Shanmugam, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Law of Singapore, Liam Fox, Secretary of State for Defence of United Kingdom and Sergie Ivanov, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia. They also attended the reception and dinner hosted by Acting President of Singapore Abdulla Tarmugi at the President’s House.

Prof. Peiris said that Sri Lanka had done the world a big service by destroying the LTTE’s naval capability. Otherwise, the world would have faced a Somalia-type pirate threat in this region as well.

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