Sunday, November 11, 2007

US gifts surveillance system and inflatable boats to Sri Lanka

US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert O. Blake, Jr. formally handed over a radar-based maritime surveillance system and several Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) to the Sri Lankan Navy yesterday at the Naval Dock Yard in Trincomalee.

Navy Commander Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda received the equipment on behalf of the Government. Both the surveillance system and the inflatable boats are designed to enhance maritime security by increasing the Navy’s ability to detect off-shore smuggling activity, the US Embassy said.

In his remarks at the handover ceremony, Blake expressed the US Government’s hope that the radar system and the inflatable boats would help the Navy to interdict arms shipments to the LTTE, which was designated a foreign terrorist organisation the United States in 1997.

The equipment was provided under Section 1206 of the US National Defense Authorisation Act, which provides authority for the US Department of Defence to assist in equipping and training partner nations to deter global terrorist activity.

The US has also helped Sri lanka to set up an ultra-modern port and container security system.

The Ambassador also urged the Government to pursue a negotiated settlement to the conflict.