ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will not engage in activities to harm the security interests of India and will re-negotiate a deal that with Hambantota Port with China, newly elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said in an interview.
“We want to work with all the all the countries and we don’t want to do anything which will harm any other country,” President Rajapaksa said in an interview with India based Strategic News International ahead of his first overseas visit to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We understand the importance of the Indian concerns. So we can’t especially act or engage in any activity which will threaten the security of India.
“I will re-assure the Indian government we will work with India as a friendly country,”
His government would also re-negotiate the Hambantota port agreement with China. A Chinese firm is now part owning and managing the port.
President Rajapaksa said there was no problem in giving a port terminal, or land to build hotels but it was “not acceptable” give control of strategically and economically important harbor to China.
“We were never to give the control of the port to China. That was a mistake,” he said.
“Though China is a good friend of ours and we need their assistance to develop. I’m not afraid to say that was a mistake.
“I will request them to renegotiate …. to assist us.”
He said China had invested heavily in Sri Lanka during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s time, but purely as as a commercial partner.
President Rajapaksa said it was important to keep sea lanes free for trade.
He said the reality was that many countries were concerned about Chinese involvement.
“We want to foreign investments to improve our economy,: he said. “So I invite India, Singapore, Japan, especially and Australia to come and invest here, right. Don’t allow only China to invest.
These governments must encourage their private companies to come and invest come and help us without leaving to one country and then grumbling.” (Colombo/Nov26/2019)