Sri Lanka to enhance military relations with Iran

(October 08, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka that wrote political and military history with 'Sri Lankan Solution' to the ethnic problem eliminating rebels and not granting the demands of the Tamils, is enhancing bilateral relations and military ties with the new found international friends like Iran as the traditional allies of West are alienating the Indian Ocean island. 

Visiting Iranian Defence Attache Brigadier Seyed Reza and Army Commander Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya discussed about a high level Iranian military delegation in Sri Lanka shortly.during a meeting on Tuesday (October 6) between visiting Iranian Defence Attache Brigadier Seyed Reza and Army Commander Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya. The Iranian military delegation will be led by Brigadier Mahmoud Amini Ranjbar, sources said.

"The two countries were likely to explore the possibility of sharing military expertise," Sri Lanka daily The Island. 

Responding to The Island queries, sources asserted that the two countries have over the year developed strategies relating to small boat operations. Iran is widely believed to a leading strategist in this concept while Sri Lanka, too, has developed an elite Special Boat Squadron as well as Rapid Action Boat Squadron.

Small boat operations were the kingpin of the naval success of Sri Lanka Navy over rebel Sea Tigers.

Iran recently extended a credit facility with soft 0.5% interest for Sri Lanka to purchase fuel. Iran initially offered to provide this facility from January 2008 to August 31, 2009 as Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse was visiting Tehran in November 2007. Now this loan has been extended for another year. Sri Lanka purchased petroleum worth of US $ 1.05 billion in 2008 alone under this facility.

Iran is also providing financial assistance for upgrading for Sapugaskanda oil refinery. In the original agreement, the Sri Lankan government had made a commitment of 30 percent of $1.47 billion project upfront. It subsequently said it could not raise the required funds. The project aims at doubling the production capacity of the oil refinery near Colombo from 50,000 barrels per day to 100,000 bpd.


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