Sri Lanka will be a developed country only if it becomes the hub of the Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told the third meeting of the Asia Europe Political Forum (AEPF) and International Conference of Asian Political Parties 2019, launched in Colombo, yesterday.

“Sri Lanka has a very friendly relationship with other countries in the region. India has been our historical partner, which in fact, extends up to Pakistan and Bangladesh. We have an excellent relationship with Japan since the San Francisco Peace Conference, and we are one of the first countries which recognised the People’s Republic of China. The best example of this friendliness would be our expressway. China, Japan, India and ourselves all together have constructed the expressway in the country,” the Prime Minister said.“We are maintaining these relationships, else Sri Lanka cannot be the hub of the Indian Ocean,” he added.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe also highlighted the importance of the Maritime Silk Road initiated by China under the theme, ‘One Belt One Road’.“The Mediterranean sea and the Indian Ocean are the oldest trade routes in the world. We have to remember, a bulk of world transport goes through the Indian Ocean. We are now putting together this system back which was broken by the Western colonial powers,” he said.“Japan and India currently working together on the Asia-Africa growth corridor and India itself are focusing towards the region with their, look West, act East and neighbourhood first policy,” he added.
India is our partner from our history. We share same civilization with Pakistan and Bangladesh. We joined Japan at the San Francisco Conference. Despite the opposition from the United States, Sri Lanka recognized People's Republic of China and first signed a trade agreement. We will maintain this situation. We do not get caught up in someone's competition."
"Many people consider that the Hambantota port is a Chinese military base. I accept that there will be an army camp. But it is a Sri Lanka navy camp. Once installed, a Sri Lankan Rear Admiral will be in control. Any ship from any country can come there. But we control the operations," the Prime Minister added.
Speaking further, the Premier said Sri Lanka can develop only if it becomes the hub of the Indian Ocean and in another twenty years Sri Lanka will become the hub in the Asian market.
The Third meeting of the Asia-Europe Political Forum (AEPF) and the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) will be held in Colombo from 5 to 7 April 2019.Approximately (90) ninety participants representing political parties in Asia and Europe are expected to be in attendance at this International Conference.
The Conference is organized by the Ministry of Primary Industries and Social Empowerment in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Minister Daya Gamage will be the co-chairman of the conference.The ICAPP, established in 2000, aims to promote mutual understanding between Asian and European countries. Sri Lanka is a functioning state of ICAPP.
The international conference is being held with the objective to promote cooperation among different political parties in order to enhance mutual understanding and confidence among Asian countries, to promote regional co-operation and to create an environment for sustainable peace and prosperity.