May 15, 2016
Major General Steven R. Rudder, the Director of Strategic Planning and Policy for U.S. Pacific Command, concluded his three-day visit to Sri Lanka from May 11-13. This is the first visit by a senior leader from Pacific Command Headquarters to Sri Lanka, and follows the recent port-call by the U.S. Seventh Fleet command ship USS Blue Ridge.
“Given Sri Lanka’s strategic position in the Indian Ocean, it is a key player in regional efforts to ensure maritime security, respond to natural disasters, and protect freedom of navigation,” said U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Atul Keshap.
Major General Rudder paid courtesy calls on the Chief of Defence Staff and the respective service commanders. In addition, he visited the Western Area Naval Command, responsible for securing the shipping lanes approaching Port of Colombo, the 14th busiest container trans-shipment point in the world. The visit sought to identify areas for future cooperation in the critical issues of maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and United Nations Peace Keeping Operations (UN PKO).
Sri Lanka’s military recently pledged additional support to UN PKO, building on their existing deployments in Lebanon, South Sudan, and Central African Republic.