Asked if India has accepted the invitation, Gen Jagath Jayasuriya, Chief of Defence Staff of the Sri Lankan army, said that an invitation had been sent in March-April, but no reply has been received yet, presumably because the post of Tri-Services Chief of Defence Staff has not been filled after the retirement of the Army chief, Gen Bikram Singh. “The post is expected to go to the IAF chief (Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha) as he is the next most senior person. Perhaps we will have to send another invitation in his name,” he said.
Asked if differences between some of the countries will pose a challenge, he said, “There will be ample opportunities for personal interaction, which could lead to friendships. And when there is friendship, problems can be sorted out by a phone call.” The theme will be ensuring mutual security in the context of rapid economic growth in SAARC and ASEAN regions, and the rise of China as an economic power.
“Sri Lanka is aiming to be a maritime, aviation and commercial hub, and this needs security. . Hence the need for a dialogue and the setting up of an institutional structure to facilitate periodic interaction,” he said.