Chief of US Senate Committee lobbies Quad

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Chairman of the United States Senate Committee Robert Menendez wrote to US State Secretary Antony Blinken and three Foreign Ministers from the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) countries that is Japan, India, and Australia, on the successful Quad Leaders’ Summit to encourage the Quad, as it continues to develop as a functional part of the Indo-Pacific architecture, to take a more proactive role in addressing Sri Lanka’s political and economic crisis.

In his letter addressed to Dr. S. Jaishankar of India, Hayashi Yoshimasa of Japan and Penny Wong of Australia, he noted that last month’s Quad meeting in Tokyo produced tangible results, from boosting vaccine capacity to combating climate change to coordinating activities in cybersecurity, space, and other critical and emerging technologies.

He said there is much more the Quad can and should do in the Indian Ocean neighbourhood, starting with Sri Lanka. “The origins of the Quad lie in the collective response by our four nations to the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. In the spirit of that tradition, today’s iteration of the Quad can lead the way in working to avoid an economic implosion in Sri Lanka that could spark a humanitarian crisis with wider, destabilising, regional impacts.

Under the Rajapaksas, Sri Lanka has been left on the brink of financial ruin and humanitarian catastrophe, he pointed out adding that former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa led his country straight into a Chinese debt trap and then his brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, failed to take the prudent economic steps necessary to avoid a default on its sovereign debt. Today, Sri Lankans of all backgrounds are rising up to make clear that it is time for a change, he added.

He pointed out that New Delhi has already taken a proactive role in providing loans and humanitarian assistance to the Sri Lankan government to avoid a meltdown, while Washington is preparing long-term economic support. Tokyo is providing food assistance to the Sri Lankan people.

These are all positive steps but there is more than can be done through the Quad, including by mobilising additional humanitarian assistance, providing badly-needed fuel, and offering technical support and advice in the areas of financial accounting, health, food security, and macroeconomic policy.”

On the diplomatic front, all four Quad nations must stand together this year at the UN Human Rights Council when the body receives the High Commissioner’s report on war crimes committed during Sri Lanka’s civil war. Diplomatic unity would help demonstrate the Quad’s commitment to accountability and respect for international humanitarian laws.”

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan