Responding to deluge of comments by a section of political parties and local media reports about the possibility of Chief of Defence Staff Sarath Fonseka, who as Army chief led the 2006-09 Eelam War IV, jumping into the fray in the presidential polls, the Sri Lankan military on Friday issued a formal statement denying any differences between General Fonseka and the government.

The military spokesperson, Udaya Nanayakkara, termed the comments on General Fonseka as bogus propaganda and said the General was still the most senior officer serving in the Army.

Since General Fonseka announced at a military function on October 12 that he had "finished his obligations" towards the military and had now reached different heights, the talk about the possibility of the General emerging as a opposition consensus candidate for the forthcoming Presidential election had grown louder.

"Such reports have been planted deliberately to create a rift between the government and the army which has won public confidence and popularity publication of such reports on the Army is illegal and counter productive," the military spokesperson said.

Trade delegation

A delegation of U.S. and Indian business leaders joined a group of American and Sri Lankan trade officials in Trincomalee, capital of the Eastern Province in the island nation, to explore investment and business opportunities.

A statement by the government here on Friday said that the trade mission to coastal Trincomalee was part of its effort to rebuild its Eastern and Northern Provinces. "The Eastern Province is the model for redeveloping the North,'' said Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the U.S.

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