Foreign Affairs Minister Tilak Marapana had informed the US Government that Sri Lanka was no longer agreeable to grant legal immunity to American military personnel under the new Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament yesterday.
He said this in response to a question raised by JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake during an adjournment debate in the House last evening.
“Minister Marapana has informed of Sri Lanka’s stance on SOFA during talks he has had with the US authorities. Legal immunity was granted to the US when SOFA was initially inked with America in 1995. This continued throughout the Rajapaksa administration. However, legal immunity will not be granted in the new agreement which our government intends signing with the US,” Minister Kiriella said.
Referring to the question raised by MP Ratnayake on the Acquisition and Cross Agreement (ACSA), Minister Kiriella said the agreement had nothing to do with the military.
“It is only about providing logistic services to the US. ACSA was originally signed in 2007 during the time of former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa," Minister Kiriella said.
However, MP Bimal Ratnayake said the new agreement does not stipulate a specific period like the previous one.
"The government should not allow any foreign force to occupy Sri Lanka. It should understand that creating unrest in the country is a tactic followed by Western nations to get its security forces into Lankan soil. The US has informed its diplomats to use the post-ISIS attack atmosphere to convince respective governments to allow the US forces into their soil,” he said.
Citing examples such as Syria, he said the US used ISIS to interfere in Sri Lankan affairs and that several politicians, businessmen and even media outlets used communalism to fulfil their vested interests. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)