President Gotabaya calls Russia’s Putin; to visit UAE to seek fuel


COLOMBO – Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has discussed the island nation’s fuel crisis with the Russian President Vladimir Putin and is expected to visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the near future, his close ally and legislator Mahindananda Aluthgamage said.

Sri Lanka is witnessing a gradual shutdown as the country does not have any scheduled fuel shipment in the foreseeable future. The government has already asked over one million of its state sector employees to work from home while closing down all the schools in key cities until July 10 to save fuel only for essential services.

Sri Lanka’s fuel crisis comes after it ran out of foreign currencies for imports. Rajapaksa administration was able to manage fuel supply at a reduced quantity from March to June after India helped with a $700 million fuel credit.

“President Gotabaya called the Russian President to import fuel from Russia. Also he plans to go on a tour to UAE to discuss with their leaders to import fuel,” Aluthgamage told a media briefing on Tuesday (28).

Rajapaksa’s visit to a Middle Eastern country would be significant after his government shot down a repeated request by Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) to stop cremation of the bodies of Sri Lankan Muslims who died due to COVID-19 pandemic.  The Gulf state along with Middle Eastern countries comprise the majority members of the OIC.

Many OIC countries including UAE, Oman, and Saudi Arabia had not responded to the Rajapaksa government’s request to help with fuel credit to face the crisis, government officials have said. Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera is in Qatar and made a similar request on Tuesday (28) when he met his Qatari counterpart.

Sri Lanka’s past diplomatic misconduct with Russia has made it difficult to discuss the fuel import issue at a lower level, a foreign ministry official said, adding that as a result, President Rajapaksa himself is expected to speak to the highest Russian political leadership.

“We hope to have a continuous fuel supply from July 10 onwards for all services,” Aluthgamage said.



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