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US 7th Fleet, Sri Lanka Enhance Bilateral Cooperation

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Indra Bosko | March 31, 2016

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (NNS) -- Senior military leaders from U.S. 7th Fleet and the Sri Lanka navy and air force met to discuss operational topics aboard the Fleet's flagship USS Blue Ridge, March 29.

Sixteen officials from Sri Lanka attended the bilateral meeting hosted by 7th Fleet, designed to share knowledge and discuss lessons learned within the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

"I hope that we can have something constructive so that we can follow up for months and years to come," said Director General Operation for Sri Lanka Navy Rear Adm. Dharmendra Wettewa, who attended the bilateral meeting.

There were also discussions about potential bilateral training between the U.S. and Sri Lanka during Pacific Partnership, a joint effort between the United States, foreign militaries, and other organizations to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian and civic assistance, as well as veterinary, medical, dental and civil engineering support.

Blue Ridge and embarked 7th Fleet staff are in Sri Lanka conducting a port visit to build new ties and promote peace and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

"This is the very first visit by a United States warship in five years," said U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Atul Keshap, during a reception aboard Blue Ridge the previous day. "We hope it will be the first of many to come," Keshap said.

7th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin envisions a stronger partnership with Sri Lanka. "We would like to come back and bring more of our 7th Fleet ships to Colombo and to Sri Lanka," Aucoin said.

The U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Asia Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy's largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build maritime partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.