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COLOMBO (Citizen) - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in India today on a five-day official visit to the IndoPacific region. He is scheduled to arrive in Sri Lanka following a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is the first time in 16 years a top US diplomat has visited the region.

The Secretary of State is scheduled to arrive in Sri Lanka tomorrow afternoon (October 27) and remain in Sri Lanka until the next day (October 28). The visit comes hot on the heels of the Chinese delegation who visited Sri Lanka less than a month ago. 

A statement from the foreign affairs department stated that the Secretary of State Pompeo is scheduled to meet President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa during the course of his visit. The statement added that arrangements have been made to conduct talks in a manner which strengthens bilateral relations. 

Prior to his visit, the government of the United States has stated that Sri Lanka must make “difficult but necessary” decisions. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Dean R. Thompson stated that United States is ready to get involved in supporting Sri Lanka’s economic development. China has interpreted this statement as the “Cold War mentality” of America. 

Spokesperson and Deputy Director of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Department Zhao Lijian condemned these developments at a media conference held in Beijing. Reuters reports that the Spokesperson has also stated that since China has been assisting Sri Lanka since economically and financially since before the COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka will face certain risks if it ignores the assistance of its ally China. The report also states that America is investigating who Sri Lanka establishes economic ties with.

World economic giant America is facing competition from regional economic superpower China in the region. Frequent visits from Chinese delegations to South Asian nations has ensured China’s standing in the recent past. Global political experts have expressed views that Secretary Pompeo’s visit is based on the economic tussle between America and China. They point out that this visit is highly unusual as it occurs just days before the US elections. 

Reported by Sahan Dahanayake

Edited by Sandun Arosha Fernando

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