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US launch Election Campaigned for Yahapanaya – Blake’s Colombo Lecture

Former US Ambassador Robert O. Blake was visiting Colombo on Tuesday to deliver a lecture titled ‘US Foreign Policy towards China and South Asia and what it means for Sri Lanka’. He was advising Colombo to tackle the response to the Easter Sunday attacks by drawing lessons from the 2001 Bush Administration and form an intelligence coordinating body of technocrats not to miss any single lead of information on potential attacks. He appreciated and recognized former Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was precisely doing that during the war with LTTE Tamil terrorists, he said. On geopolitics, Mr Blake was enticing Colombo to engage with China, the USA and other countries in parallel, a paradigm which enabled Colombo to wiped out the LTTE Tamils terrorists from the Island.

Robert Blake was the US Ambassador in Colombo during the during the final onslaught on Tamil terrorists in 2009.

“Having a high-level group of technocrats like that is something Sri Lanka could definitely benefit from. [...] In fact, you did have such a group before the war (with Tamil terrorists) and during the war when Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was defence secretary,” Blake said in his lecture delivered at the BMICH on Tuesday.

“Gotabhaya Rajapaksa personally chaired that group and made sure that all the different branches of Intelligence of which there are many in this country for sharing information to the senior level people, and then they themselves were making sure that somebody was looking into those and making sure that the attacks didn’t take place,” he continued.

Blake was advocating for world-class openness to attract foreign investments, reforms to address corruption and to get trained on business intelligence through new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics which were the technologies shaping the 21st-century business future. He was hinting that AI venture capital companies were launched in China before they became a reality in Silicon Valley in the USA. He wanted Colombo to partner with US and Chinese companies to catalyse “Sri Lanka-specific AI growth”.

Blake is currently a Senior Director of McLarty Associates, which is a trade consultancy firm based Washington DC., with a global presence. He was invited to Colombo by former SL Minister Milinda Moragoda, who runs a think-tank to “talk about Sri Lanka’s place in the US Administration’s Indo-Pacific vision, how China is viewed in the US and its implications for the future of US-SL relations”.

Milinda Moragoda is extensively focused on ‘Sri Lanka – China’, ‘Sri Lanka – US’ and ‘Indo-Lanka’ relations. He facilitates several exchange projects with the global establishments through his Pathfinder Foundation.

“As the US, China and other influential countries like India, Japan and Australia all jockey for influence in Asia, Sri Lanka is in an excellent position to benefit from and even play off these countries against each other. Your strategic location on the busiest shipping lanes; your democratic character and your economic openness make Sri Lanka an attractive partner,” Blake said.

He was also happy about the military-to-military relationship, which he was harping during his official tenure in Colombo.

“I am pleased that our military to military relations have progressed substantially from the days when I was Ambassador,” he said.

Singling the US and Western covert effort to rescue the LTTE Tamil terrorist leader Prabakaran  and its senior Tamil terrorist leadership Blake went on said that “In the last years of the war in 2008 and 2009, human rights concern almost completely circumscribed our military exercises, training and assistance with the Sri Lankan Army and Air Force. I had to fight hard to maintain even small areas of Navy-to-Navy cooperation, in part by arguing that it was in our interest to help Sri Lanka interdict LTTE arms shipments. Today, I am happy those restrictions are behind us,” Mr Blake further said.

The US-backed interdiction and interception of the LTTE terrorists’ vessels went on for a long time in a systematic way, and it was one of the main reasons to eliminate Tamil terrorism from Sri Lankan soil.  The 30-month long secret operation code-named ‘Sagara Balaya’ which destroyed several LTTE terrorists’ vessels in the high seas off Indonesia and Australia towards the end of the war with LTTE Tamil terrori

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