Sri Lanka’s President Vetoes Military Deal With U.S.

China’s Investment in the Island has Piqued U.S. Interest

Sri Lanka’s President, Maithripala Sirisena, vetoed the draft Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) on Saturday, a deal between Sri Lanka’s government and the U.S. military that would have allowed U.S. troops free access to the island nation’s ports.

“I will not allow the SOFA that seeks to betray the nation. Some foreign forces want to make Sri Lanka one of their bases. I will not allow them to come into the country and challenge our sovereignty,” Sirisena said at a public rally.

Sri Lanka’s pro-Western Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe supports the deal.

Last year, Washington announced it was granting Sri Lanka $39 million to boost maritime security, as China began increasing its foothold on the island. Increased US interest in Sri Lanka comes as Beijing is furthering its investment in ports and other building projects on the island.