Sri Lanka in talks with India to set up small arms manufacturing unit: Minister Tennakoon

Sri Lanka on Wednesday said it is holding talks with India to set up a small arms manufacturing unit under the wider ambit of defence cooperation between the two countries.
Sri Lanka in talks with India to set up small arms manufacturing unit: Minister Tennakoon

Colombo | Sri Lanka on Wednesday said it is holding talks with India to set up a small arms manufacturing unit under the wider ambit of defence cooperation between the two countries.

“We are in discussions with India to set up a small arms manufacturing unit. We are in touch with our Indian counterparts, there is so much we can take and learn from India,” State Minister of Defence Premitha Bandara Tennakoon said responding to a query from the media.

“Discussions are ongoing (for) a joint venture in the military industry,” Tennakoon said.

His statement comes a little more than a month after India's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Santosh Jha told a defence seminar here that New Delhi was willing to offer modern defence equipment to friendly partner countries such as Sri Lanka.

“Like in other areas, India and Sri Lanka are cooperating closely on security and defence matters. The Indian defence industry today rolls out state-of-the-art systems, advanced technologies and world class equipment,” Jha had said on April 10.

He added that various advanced platforms and equipment developed indigenously in India can also become viable, affordable and modern solutions for the Sri Lankan military.

Referring to the April 10 meeting, where he himself was present, Tennakoon on Wednesday said, Sri Lanka is not trying to buy “anything” at the moment, and added that such presentations are annual events.

"Connectivity is really good ... and military-to-military connectivity ... Indian and Sri Lankan military-to-military connectivity is at a high. So we maintain that …. that doesn't mean that we are going to buy anything from anyone,” the minister was quoted as saying by news portal NewsFirst.lk.

Speaking at the Presidential Media Centre under the theme of ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country,' Tennakoon said, “The Indian defence manufacturing arm has boomed during the last two decades, and it's a model that Sri Lanka will have to look into.” “We can take a lot from the Indian model. There's nothing wrong in learning from them. And I think we also should get into manufacturing,” he said.

The minister said that the Sri Lankan military has expertise in weapons manufacturing, which, however, is not at a scale expected to be and confirmed, “(So) Sri Lanka is in discussion with India to set up a small arms ammunition manufacturing unit.” During the April 10 event, apart from Tennakoon, Sri Lanka's Chief of Defence Staff Gen Shavendra Silva and the Commanders of the Air Force and Navy apart from senior officials from the Sri Lankan Armed Forces were also present.

Led by a senior India's Ministry of Defence official, a large and very diverse delegation from the Indian defence industry, along with the representatives from the Sri Lankan businesses too had attended that conference.

India had asserted that its approach to Sri Lanka is guided by its neighbourhood-first policy and the vision SAGAR or Security and Growth for All in the Region is a flagship government initiative to help Indian Ocean Region neighbours.

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