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SOURCE: PTI

Sri Lanka will not take part in any “big power rivalry” in the Indian Ocean and it is unfortunate that his country has been made the “punching bag” for Hambantota, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said, weeks after India and China clashed over the docking of a high-tech Chinese ship at the country’s southern port. Wickremesinghe said the Indian Ocean region needs to be open to all to ensure freedom of navigation.

“That is important for commerce to carry on. We have to remember that the bulk of the petroleum supply and energy supply to the world goes through the Indian Ocean. A large amount of shipping goes through the Indian Ocean. We don’t want this to be an area of conflict and an area of war,” he said in his speech made at the National Defence College on Wednesday.

Sri Lanka will not participate in military alliances and does not want the problems of the Pacific coming into the Indian Ocean, he said, while speaking on the crisis-hit country’s position on the geopolitical stage.

“We don’t participate in a military alliance, and we certainly do not want the problems of the Pacific coming to the Indian Ocean. We don’t want this to be an area of conflict and an area of war. Sri Lanka will not take part in any big power rivalry,” he said, adding: “That’s why we work with India on the Colombo conclave, on the trilateral security arrangements and other fields, especially outside the military field of piracy, of human trafficking, of drugs.”