Sri Lanka to lift ban on visits by foreign research ships

Lan Hai 101
The Chinese fisheries research vessel Lan Hai 101Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute

The government of Sri Lanka said it will lift an existing ban that prevents foreign-operated research vessels from calling at any one of the country's ports. The ban, which will have a duration of 12 months, will not be extended beyond its scheduled expiration in January of next year.

The restriction was originally imposed in the wake of the October 2023 visit to the capital city Colombo by the Chinese oceanographic research vessel Shi Yan 6. Analysts had warned that this and other research vessels were also being used for intelligence gathering, which then prompted the US and Indian governments to advise Sri Lanka that the presence of such ships in the latter's waters constituted a potential security risk.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry confirmed the impending lifting of the restriction during a recent official visit to Japan. Mr Sabry said the reversal of the ban indicates that Sri Lanka will remain neutral amid ongoing disputes between other countries.

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