The Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) and Acquisition and Cross Servicing (ACSA) agreements will be only be signed if the USA agrees to the points raised by Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament today.
The Prime Minister expressed this sentiment in response to questions raised by JVP MP Anura Dissanayake on SOFA and Joint Opposition MP Bandula Gunawardene on ACSA agreement with the USA in the House last morning.
“Government will not agree to anything that would violate Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Prime Minister said.
“There is no question about setting up US military camps within Sri Lanka as it is not possible considering the military equipment held by USA. The aircraft carrier Ronald Regan carried 90 aircraft. There is no location in Sri Lanka which can handle 90 aircraft. Besides troupes are transported by modern helicopters. They don’t bring troops like the way the Portuguese brought troupes to Ceylon in the past,” he said
At the same time, the Premier said there is no SOFA agreement at the moment though media is claiming there is such. “ I request the media to hand me over a copy of this agreement, if such a document is existing. It will be a false one, if it exists. I shall then get the police to investigate on it,” the Prime Minister said.
Also he said the US does not have to set up bases in Sri Lanka as it already has bases in Japan, South Korea and Diego Garcia.
Meanwhile, Premier Wickremesinghe said the USA has increased contact points in the new proposed draft for ACSA. These include Sri Lanka Army, Navy and Air Force Head Quarters. “We cannot do anything about this, but Sri Lanka had proposed that the USA should deal with the Ministry of Defence.
Further, he said that SOFA agreements which USA had signed with countries is different to each other.
Mr. Dissanayake questioned as to whether the US forces have been allowed to enter Sri Lanka with their American identity cards, whether they would be allowed to drive vehicles using US driving licences and also whether they are allowed to move about with military uniforms. Also, he said the notion that the ACSA agreement in 2007 have seven pages and the proposed one comprises of five pages, is not valid as what the content of the agreement has. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)