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Sri Lanka successfully maintains neutrality in foreign relations - Ali Sabry

Sri Lanka has won the respect of its international partners for maintaining neutrality in practising foreign policy and this helped the country in striking a much-needed bailout package with the IMF, the island nation’s Foreign Minister Ali Sabry told Parliament on Thursday.

Sri Lanka had succeeded in pursuing a policy of “friendship to all and enmity to none”, Sabry said.

“The challenge we faced was that we should not be drawn into any particular camp and seen as an extension of any particular country or any region or a particular alliance,” the minister said, without naming any country.
Sabry said President Ranil Wickremesinghe was able to communicate with many world leaders to articulate Sri Lanka’s vision.

“He visited India, he visited China, he visited Japan twice, he visited Germany, France, and went to the UN.” “I think because we have done that without getting entangled into any pro-country strategy and standing together as an independent sovereign state we have got the respect Sri Lanka richly deserves,” Sabry said.

Sabry said Sri Lanka remains committed to the Palestine cause. “We have maintained our solidarity with Palestine.” He said Sri Lanka is the current chair of the UN committee on Israeli practices in Palestine.

Sri Lanka’s success in foreign policy was proved in many UN assembly votes where the island nation’s candidates had received favour of support in voting, the minister said.

The non-aligned foreign policy was the key to Sri Lanka striking the bailout with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he said.

Many powerful countries had assisted in the ongoing talks for external debt restructuring, he added.

Sabry said Sri Lanka would be formally out of its bankrupt status by later this month when the IMF will likely release its second tranche of the USD 2.9 billion facility.

Sri Lanka declared bankruptcy in April 2022 which saw the ouster of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government mid-year. The island nation announced its first-ever sovereign default since gaining independence from Britain in 1948.

The Rajapaksas and their fiscal hierarchy were found responsible for the economic downturn by Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court under a fundamental rights petition.