SL PM vows to safeguard economy if M-E tensions escalate



Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that the government will take quick steps to safeguard the island country's economy if tensions in the Middle East further escalate, it was reported on Friday.

Rajapaksa, also the country's Finance Minister, told the media on Thursday that the Sri Lankan government expected the US and Iran not to opt for war but to settle issues through negotiations, reports Xinhua news agency.

However, the government has begun assessing the impact a war-like situation could have on Sri Lanka if the tensions escalate, and that full attention will be given to the matter in the coming weeks, he added.

Iran is Sri Lanka's fourth biggest tea buyer, the Prime Minister said.

Meanwhile, government spokesperson Keheliya Rambukwella said that Sri Lanka's Ministry of External Affairs has reached out to Sri Lankan nationals living in Iran and will make arrangements for their return to home country should tensions escalate further.

Rambukwella said there are an estimated 100 Sri Lankans in Iran presently.

Tensions heightened between the US and Iran after Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani was killed in a drone attack ordered by President Donald Trump on January 3 in Baghdad.

Iran retaliated the killing by launching a missile attack on Wednesday at two military bases in Iraq that houses US troops.IANS 

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