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MoUs between Govt and foreign parties to be reviewed to protect SL’s national interest

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The Defence Ministry stated that the Government has appointed a committee to evaluate and review whether existing MoUs between local and foreign agencies are in line with national interests.

State Defence Minister Premitha Bandara Tennakoon said yesterday (13) that this step was taken in response to the questionable situation regarding the appropriateness of the MoUs between local and foreign institutions.

Accordingly, Sri Lanka has appointed a high-level committee to conduct a full review with the primary objective of ensuring that these agreements are in the best interests of the nation.

The committee comprises representatives of key government agencies including the Defence Ministry, Foreign Ministry and other relevant state institutions. State Minister Tennakoon said that this committee has planned to review the existing MoUs using their expertise and experience to evaluate and improve them.

After multiple visits of Chinese research ships to Sri Lanka in the last two years, a debatable situation arose about the impact of a number of agreements signed with Local Government institutions, academic institutions and foreign parties on Sri Lanka’s national interest.

The visits caused tensions in diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and regional countries, and led to Sri Lanka announcing a one-year (2024) ban on all foreign scientific research vessels surveying Sri Lankan waters.

The primary responsibilities of the committee includes scrutinizing all existing MoUs and making recommendations aimed at improving these agreements, while specific tasks assigned to the committee include aspects related to bilateral cooperation and legal frameworks.

The MoUs between domestic and foreign institutions aim to establish mutually beneficial relationships through cooperation. However, extensive review is needed to ensure the optimality of these agreements. Key areas to be evaluated include bilateral mutual benefits, legal and operational obligations, terms of exchange, and issues unique to the institutions involved.

MoUs should bring economic, technological and strategic benefits to both parties. It is also necessary to examine the compliance with the rules, the clarity of the provisions and the completeness of the stated obligations. It is also necessary to assess the need, efficiency and enforceability of the mechanisms for sharing resources and knowledge.

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