Sri Lanka reverses $300-million China housing deal

Maithripala Sirisena

Maithripala Sirisena

Sri Lanka's president has called India's prime minister to deny a report that quoted him as saying the Indian secret service was plotting to kill him.

This is not the first time a Sri Lankan leader has accused the Indian agency of interference.

While Mr Sirisena's denial and assurances appear to have mollified its much larger and more powerful neighbour, the incident has left the Sri Lankan government embarrassed.

Shiral Lakthilaka, senior presidential advisor, has called the report false.

It said Mr Sirisena had made the statement at a cabinet meeting to the "shock" of assembled ministers.

Speculation is rife in Sri Lanka of a turf war between its President and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who incidentally will begin a three-day visit to New Delhi on Thursday.

Reports regarding an assassination plot emerged when one person by the name, Namal Kumara, who was part of an anti-corruption outfit claimed that he was aware of the plan to assassinate Sirisena and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

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"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", he said. Trump may not be aware of CIA's similar moves, Sirisena said according to The Hindu report.

Sirisena is opposed to granting India access to develop the terminal just next to the China-run Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT), the report said.

A coalition between Sirisena's centre-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's centre-right United National Party (UNP) has grown increasingly strained in recent months.

ET has learnt that he mentioned to Modi that the mischievous and malafide reports were utterly baseless and false, and seemed meant to create misunderstanding between the two leaders as well as damage the cordial relations between the two friendly neighbours.

It's being reported that it was in this context that Sirisena expressed his discontent and said he was unhappy "very slow progress of the inquiry", but India was nowhere mentioned or in any way alluded to in the meeting. It said bilateral relations, "including at the highest levels of government are strong, encompassing multiple spheres including intelligence-sharing". He added he greatly values the mutually beneficial ties between the two countries and remained committed to working with Modi for further strengthening the relationship.

As per the Hindu report, Sirisena also alleged that the government is showing "indifference" to an assassination plot targeting him.

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