Hambantota port lease: India closely watching developments, says Sitharaman

ANI | Updated: Dec 14, 2017 23:27 IST

New Delhi [India], December 14 (ANI): In the wake of China taking operational control of Sri Lanka's strategically located Hambantota Port, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said that India is keeping a close watch on the developments taking place in the connection.

"Not sure if I'll comment on any one particular instance. But yes, we are being watchful of all the developments in the neighbourhood," Sitharaman said in response to a question about Sri Lanka handing over Hambantota port to China on 99-year lease.

Earlier, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that it expects the Government of Sri Lanka to keep India's security concerns and sensitivities in mind with regard to regional developments and dynamics.

Responding to a question on China taking operational control of Sri Lanka's strategically located Hambantota Port's, Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said, "We are confident about the strength and enduring nature of our ties with Sri Lanka which are deep rooted and multi dimensional. Our relations with Sri Lanka stand on its own and are not dependent on our relation with any third country."

"We continue to take up with Sri Lanka issues related to security concerns in the region and expect that our Sri Lankan friends will keep in mind our security concerns and sensitivities," he added.

Sri Lanka had recently handed over its main southern port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease.

The port, near the main shipping route from Asia to Europe, is expected to play a key role in China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

According to media reports, Sri Lanka has received USD 292 million out of a USD 1.12 billion deal. (ANI)