NATIONAL

No port deal during PM’s Colombo trip

Agenda of cooperation:Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Sri Lankan counterpart, Ranil Wickremesinghe, left, in New Delhi on Wednesday.V. SudershanV_Sudershan

Agenda of cooperation:Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Sri Lankan counterpart, Ranil Wickremesinghe, left, in New Delhi on Wednesday.V. SudershanV_Sudershan  

Responding to growing domestic pressure, Sri Lanka on Wednesday declared that a crucial agreement with India on the Trincomalee port would not be sealed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Colombo. The declaration came from senior Sri Lankan leaders in Colombo even as Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in economic projects in Delhi.

“The Prime Minister is only signing a broad MoU on economic cooperation while in Delhi. Later, the respective Ministries from both countries will hold discussions and then sign agreements that are legally binding,” Rajitha Senaratne, senior Minister and Cabinet spokesman, told presspersons in Colombo.

He explained that the port deal would not be signed during the Indian Prime Minister’s visit.

Port strike

The Hindu reported on Wednesday that oil union workers in Colombo went on a strike against the planned MoU with India for 84 tanks in the Trincomalee upper oil tank farm. The strike, which hit oil supplies in Sri Lanka on Monday, was called off on an assurance from the leadership that the workers’ concerns would be taken into account before sealing the deal.

Mr. Modi would attend the UN Vesak Day or Buddha Poornima celebrations in Colombo on May 12. The only other event, Sri Lankan government sources said, was in the island’s Central Province where the Indian Prime Minister would visit the famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, and inaugurate a hospital in Dikoya, built with Indian assistance.

The statement regarding the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement and the MoU for Cooperation in Economic Projects came at the end of the visit to Delhi by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to Delhi which also stopped short of producing a solution to the opposition that Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) has been facing from Sri Lanka.

Extensive talks

In Delhi, Mr. Wickremesinghe held extensive talks with Mr Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Shipping and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari.

During the discussion with the visiting dignitary, the Indian representatives also requested continued cooperation of Sri Lanka for better treatment of Indian fishermen.

Recommended for you