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No offensive weapons in Lankan waters: Sri Lanka

No offensive weapons in Lankan waters: Sri Lanka

In a sequel to Colombo recently rejecting permission for a Chinese submarine to dock in the port of Colombo, A senior Lankan cabinet Minister on Wednesday announced a tough stand asserting the country would not allow 'offensive weapons' in its waters.

The comment by visiting Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake was a clear signal to China that Sri Lanka will not allow Chinese submarines to dock in Lankan ports, and would respect Indian security concerns.

The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister said the move was not aimed at any country adding that Sri Lanka would be willing to become part of the maritime corridor plan envisaged as part of China's ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, on the grounds that shipping routes were '5000 years old'. Karunanayake said he wants Sri Lanka to be an economic entry point in the vicinity of India like Hong Kong was to China. "There are many who would like to live in Sri Lanka but do business in India," he told this newspaper.

"Naval and offensive weapons don't fall into this category (shipping routes). Offensive weapons are not welcome in Sri Lankan waters. We are not targeting any country," he said.
The visiting Minister also spoke about the 'Indian-friendly approach' of his country and praised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who recently visited Sri Lanka on an official visit for his vision.

The Minister also indicated that India has been in touch with Sri Lanka regarding New Delhi's views on the Chinese OBOR initiative but pointed out that India respects Sri Lanka's 'sovereign right' to take a decision keeping in mind Sri Lankan interests. He also welcomed Indian participation in infrastructure projects in his country. The Minister also thanked India for its assistance in the wake of the floods that have ravaged the island nation, and expressed confidence that the contentious fishermen's issue would be resolved to the satisfaction of both sides.

He also said Colombo would welcome Sri Lankan Tamils residing in India, to return to Sri Lanka as it belongs to them as well.

(DECCAN CHRONICLE)

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