COLOMBO, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) — 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, local media reported on Friday.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa, also the country’s finance minister, told the media on Thursday that the Sri Lankan government expected the United States and Iran not to opt for war but to settle issues through negotiations.
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 the home country should tensions escalate further.
Rambukwella said there are an estimated 100 Sri Lankans in Iran presently.
(The featured image at the top shows the Sapugaskanda oil refinery in Sri Lanka built by Iran)