Iran's Raisi says Israel must be brought to justice for 'usurpation' of Palestinian territories

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Israel must be brought to justice for “usurpation and oppression” of the Palestinian territories, if not there won't be a guarantee that others would not do the same in other lands.

Raisi was delivering a statement during his one-day visit to Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

“When it come to the oppressor, when it come to the usurper, the Zionist Israeli regime has been committing oppression against the people of Palestine for 75 years, they have been usurping their territory,” Raisi said.

“First of all we have to expel the usurpers secondly we should make them pay the cost for all the damages they have created and thirdly we have to bring to justice the oppressor and usurper,” he said.

Earlier on Wednesday Raisi inaugurated a hydropower and irrigation project in Sri Lanka and said his country has proven the West doesn’t have a monopoly on technology.

Raisi is the first Iranian leader to visit Sri Lanka since former President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad visited the country in 2008.

“The Western countries tried to convince all others that knowledge and technology is exclusive to those countries,” Raisi said, addressing Sri Lanka's President Ranil Wickremesinghe and other top officials. He said the “idea” was rooted in “colonialism and arrogance” and that Iran was now able to share its knowledge with others, currently having projects in 20 countries.

The Uma Oya project, in the central Badulla district, was constructed with Iranian technical assistance. Valued at $514 million, it was started in 2010 by Iran’s FARAB engineering group and Iran initially provided $50 million. But in 2013, funding could not be continued because of international sanctions against Iran. The Sri Lankan government then decided to complete the project with its own funds using the same Iranian contractor.

The project was scheduled for completion in 2015 but was delayed by international sanctions against Iran, technical issues and the COVID-19 pandemic, the government said in a statement ahead of Raisi’s visit.

The project will add 290 GWh of electricity annually to the national grid and irrigate 4,500 hectares (11,100 acres) of new land and 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of existing agricultural land.

Raisi and Wickremesinghe later Wednesday witnessed the signing of five memoranda of understanding covering areas including tourism, science, technical media, films and sports.

Raisi arrived in Sri Lanka from Pakistan, where the two countries agreed to strengthen economic and security cooperation.