Sri Lanka, Pakistan defence deal proposed

August 1, 2008 (AFP) – Pakistan, a key supplier of small arms to Sri Lanka, has proposed a defence pact to boost military cooperation between the two countries, Pakistani officials said Friday. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi made the offer to his Sri Lankan counterpart Rohitha Bogollegama on the sidelines of a South Asian meeting in Colombo, the officials said.

“A (draft) defence cooperation agreement has been given to Sri Lanka,” said a senior Pakistani official who did not wish to be named.

India has been uneasy about the growing military clout of its arch-rival Pakistan in Sri Lanka, which New Delhi regards as being within its sphere of geo-political influence.

Islamabad is already an important supplier of small arms and ammunition to Sri Lankan security forces, who are battling separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, and Pakistan is also training a large number of Sri Lankan military personnel.

Indian diplomats have privately raised concerns about closer defence ties between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, which also buys military hardware from China and Israel as well as from former Soviet Union states.

“We want Sri Lanka to quickly move on that (the draft agreement