Sri Lanka will unveil the Standard Operating Procedure (SPO) shortly setting out guidelines to be followed by foreign ships or aircraft in making a port of call in Sri Lanka and carrying out activities in territorial waters, a top source said.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced it for the first time while making his remarks at the Ocean Nations: The 3rd Annual Indo-Pacific Islands Dialogue on the sideline of the UN General Assembly.
He ruled out that no spy vessel was in Sri Lanka, despite concerns raised by another country.
Asked about the current status of the application of the SPO, a top source familiar with the process told Daily Mirror that it had evolved but would be unveiled soon for the public to know. It stipulates the kinds of vessels and aircraft allowed in Sri Lankan territory, the number of days to stay in the country and the type of activities allowed to be undertaken.
The SPO has been worked out after some powers, particularly India, raised concerns about the visit of Chinese research and military vessels in Sri Lankan waters. When working out the SPO, the amendments proposed by India have also been incorporated.
Two Chinese research vessels Shi Yan 6 and Xiang Yang Hong 03 are expected to visit Sri Lanka in October, this year and January, next year. It is part of an agreement signed by the China Academy of Science and the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA). (Kelum Bandara)