Indian concerns over Colombo port city project addressed: Sri Lanka

Ruling out chances of India-China clash to gain control of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Saturday said his government has addressed New Delhi's security concerns over the newly- modified USD 1.5 billion Colombo Port City project.

PTI| Updated: Apr 09, 2016, 16:16 PM IST

Beijing: Ruling out chances of India-China clash to gain control of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Saturday said his government has addressed New Delhi's security concerns over the newly- modified USD 1.5 billion Colombo Port City project.

"There is no question of security problem. The Indian security issues have been addressed by us. There will be further discussions with India" on this, Wickremesinghe told the media here wrapping up his four day-visit during which he held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

"We have discussed with India also. We are prepared to discuss it further," he said answering a volley of questions about USD eight billion Chinese investments including the Port City project made during former Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's regime, which sparked off security concerns in India.

In a politically significant statement, Wickremesinghe said he has embarked on China visit after holding talks with Rajapaksa and former President Chandrika Kumaratunga to build consensus.

"I had discussion with Rajapaksa few days ago we came. We briefed him on issue we were going to discuss in China. He was for it. Also discussed with Kumaratunga. Because we want to build consensus on long-term arrangement with China," he said.

About the likelihood of Chinese military presence in Lanka, he said: "Chinese have not asked for any military base in Sri Lanka."

"We are going to have further military co-operation by training. They offered offshore patrol vessel (OPV)," he said, adding that India is also building two for Sri Lanka.

About the likelihood of India-China clash in the Indian Ocean, Wickremesinghe said the Ocean should be governed by law of the sea principles with freedom of navigation.

"Sri Lanka is committed to freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean," he said.

"India has naval presence as part of anti-piracy operation. China is also setting up base in Djibouti. Many countries are setting up bases. But that is part of UN agreement on anti-piracy operation.

"As it stands now, we cannot see a major clash or a threat taking place in the Indian Ocean because the Chinese military presence is one that is connected with the anti- piracy operations," Wickremesinghe said.

There are many navies that are operating in the Indian Ocean including the US which has bases, he said.

He also said the USD 1.5 billion Port City project which was halted for over a year by his government had been changed with several key factors altered.

The deal was entered during Rajapaksa regime.

"Port city and megapolis is not a threat to anyone. It is an opportunity to make everyone money," he said.