In the final week before the US presidential elections on November 3, Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo plans to visit India’s two Indian Ocean neighbours, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, after attending the 2+2 talks in Delhi, The Indian Express has learnt.
In Delhi, the talks will involve Pompeo, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper and their Indian counterparts, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Pompeo’s stop in Colombo later comes amid US and Indian concerns at China’s stepped-up engagement with the government of recently elected Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Earlier this month, a high-profile Chinese delegation led by Yang Jeichi, former foreign minister, Communist Party Politburo member and head of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, had visited Colombo. Following discussions with the delegation, Gotabaya Rajapaksa had said that the two sides would restart negotiations for a free trade agreement, and aim to complete the Colombo Port City and other projects quickly. He also said he wanted a China-style development for Sri Lanka.