Sub­ma­rine visit

The Indian Express - - THE SECOND PAGE -

named be­cause of the sen­si­tiv­ity of the mat­ter.

The sec­ond of­fi­cial, at the de­fence min­istry, also said China’s re­quest to dock this month had been re­jected but that a de­ci­sion on a fur­ther dock­ing had been post­poned.

“It might hap­pen later,” the sec­ond of­fi­cial told Reuters, adding that China had re­quested ap­proval to use the port around May 16 “some­time back”.

A source close to the Chi­nese em­bassy in Colombo con­firmed that China had re­quested per­mis­sion for the sub­ma­rine visit but was still await­ing a re­sponse.

China has in­vested heav­ily in Sri Lanka in re­cent years, fund­ing air­ports, roads, rail­ways and ports, un­set­tling In­dia, tra­di­tion­ally the clos­est eco­nomic part­ner of the is­land na­tion of 21 mil­lion peo­ple. More than 70 per cent of the trans-ship­ment in Colombo port comes from In­dia.

Sri Lanka is fi­nal­is­ing a plan to lease 80 per­cent of its loss-mak­ing Ham­ban­tota port to China for 99 years, but the deal has been de­layed be­cause of op­po­si­tion from trade unions.

The Sri Lankan gov­ern­ment also wants to es­tab­lish a petroleum hub with the help of In­dia in the eastern port city of Trin­co­ma­lee, where Lanka IOC, the sub­sidiary of In­dian Oil Cor­po­ra­tion, han­dles 15 out of 99 oil tanks.

A 1987 ac­cord be­tween In­dia and Sri Lanka pro­vides that their ter­ri­to­ries not be used for ac­tiv­i­ties deemed prej­u­di­cial to each other’s unity, in­tegrity and se­cu­rity. REUTERS

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