Reapproval needed for future visits – Harbour Master

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The visit of China’s Yuan Wang 5, a space-tracking ship, to monitor satellite, rocket, and intercontinental ballistic missile launches, that was postponed or differed from arriving at Hambantota Port, will have to be reapproved even if it returns again, according to Harbour Master, Captain Nirmal de Silva.

Captain de Silva said even if the Government, through the Foreign Ministry’s diplomatic channel, approved the visit of the Chinese vessel, the Harbour Master has to also approve the ship’s docking in any Sri Lankan port.

At present, the vessel has diverted its voyage to the Indian Ocean according to sources.

It had come around 655 nautical miles and then had left and was spotted last in the Indonesian sea, the Harbour Master said.

The Harbour Master further noted that any ship, whether commercial or warship, has to obtain permission to enter any port in Sri Lanka, hence Hambantota Port that is leased to China cannot have any ship enter there without prior permission from the Government and the Harbour Master.

According to reports, Chinese officials had held another round of talks to obtain clearance, but they were not granted but differed.

The postponement means they can ask for permission again, which will have to be fresh approval from the Government’s diplomatic channel as well as from the Harbour Master, Captain de Silva said.

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan