(Daily Mirror online 28/07/2010)
The Sri Lankan government is investigating to see if the request put forward by the Maldives to the UN seeking an expansion of its continental shelf will overlap the sea area demarcated by Sri Lanka in a similar request to the world body.
Officials from the Legal Division of the Foreign Ministry told Daily Mirror online that a technical team has been appointed by the Sri Lankan government to study the area to verify if both demarcated areas overlap each other and if found to be true will resort to dialogue with the Maldivian government.
A report on the findings is also expected to be handed over to the Foreign Ministry Secretary soon.
The Maldives will demand 168,000 square kilometers off the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the country as its extended continental shelf, its Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed said.
Maldives will file a case at the UN today for 148,000 square kilometers off the north and 20,000 square kilometers off the west.
â€œBy the grace of God, our 45th Independence Day is a day that we will amend some issues and expand the Maldives area, especially that we would officially file a case at UN to get the extended continental shelf that we should get,â€ the Minister said.
The extended continental shelf claimed by Maldives contradicts with the portion claimed by neighboring Sri Lanka last year. Dr Shaheed, however, expressed hope that the disputes â€œover a small areaâ€ would be resolved through dialogue.
â€œI believe that we will find a solution through negotiations soon, as Maldives and Sri Lanka have always maintained close relations,â€ he said.
Sri Lanka formally presented its claim for sovereignty over an extended continental shelf around the island under international law to the UN last year.
The claim, if successful, would give Sri Lanka control over potential hydrocarbon and mineral deposits on the seabed.