Sri Lankan President
Sri Lankan President

Lankan government denies its President, PM argued over Indian investments in Cabinet meeting

ANI | Updated: Oct 17, 2018 17:15 IST

Colombo [Sri Lanka], Oct 17 (ANI): Dismissing media reports that claimed Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had a showdown at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday over a proposal to develop the East Container Terminal of the Colombo Port as an Indian investment, the Lankan government on Wednesday issued a statement saying that no paper relating to the infrastructure development projects by the Indian government or Indian companies were included in the agenda of that Cabinet meeting.
"President, as the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers, has paid attention to the printed and electronic media reports on the matters discussed during the Cabinet meeting held at the Presidential Secretariat on 16th October 2018. It is stressed that those news are completely untrue. Any Cabinet paper relating to the infrastructure development projects planned to be implemented in Sri Lanka by the Indian government or Indian companies were not included in the agenda of that Cabinet meeting," the Sri Lankan government said in a statement.
The statement issued by S. Abeysinghe, Secretary to the Cabinet of Ministers, added, "The President briefed the Cabinet of Ministers about the matters of mutual importance, important matters in the regional and international arena and the important matters discussed during his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the BIMSTEC Summit held in Nepal recently. He stressed that those discussions helped further strengthen the long-term friendship between the two countries. Hence, it is kindly requested to make sure to inquire from Cabinet Spokespersons and verify when reporting the matters discussed during the Cabinet meetings."
Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror had reported that at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Ports and Shipping Minister, Mahinda Samarasinghe submitted a Cabinet memorandum on developing the terminal by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) but Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, backed by Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama, insisted that it should be on the basis of an Indian investment.
"Apparently incensed by the Prime Minister's remarks, the President was reported to have said that it was vital to keep the sea port within the ambit of the Sri Lankan Government and that as a country Sri Lanka would lose its sovereignty in the event of alienating sea ports to external parties. The President is also reported to have been critical of the leasing of the Hambantota Port to a Chinese Company and said he had discussed the development of the Colombo Port with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he met him on the sidelines of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)," Daily Mirror said in its article.
The newspaper further quoted President Sirisena saying that Indian Prime Minister was not opposed to the development of the East Container Terminal of the Colombo Port by Sri Lanka. "However, the Prime Minister had persisted in saying that a bulk of container traffic for the Colombo Port originated from India and, therefore, it was all the more important to develop it with India. Sources said the President and the Prime Minister had continued hurling arguments at each other," Daily Mirror wrote. (ANI)

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