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India’s concerns important : Sri Lankan minister over Chinese vessel

India’s concerns important : Sri Lankan minister over Chinese vessel

New York: Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry on Monday allayed India’s concerns over a Chinese vessel planning to dock in the Island nation, saying that Colombo has not given permission to the visit.

Ali Sabry said India’s security concerns are ‘ important’ for Sri Lanka following reports that Chinese vessel Shi Yan 6 is scheduled to dock in Sri Lanka in October, news agency ANI reported.

When asked about the China’s move, he said Sri Lanka has a standard operating procedure (SOP) alongside having consulted many friends including India regarding the development.

‘That's a conversation going on for some period of time. India has expressed its concerns over a long time, but we have come out with the SOP (standard operating procedure). When we were making that, we consulted many of our friends, including India. So, as long as it complies with the SOP, we have no problem. But if it doesn't comply with the SOP, we have a problem,’ News agency ANI quoted Ali Sabry as saying.

Admitting that negotiations are underway, he said ‘As far as I know, we have not given permission to come to Sri Lanka during October.’

‘Indian security concerns, which are legitimate, are very, very important for us. We have always told that because we want to keep our region a zone of peace,’ Ali Sabry reportedly said.

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe also said that a SPO is in place regarding foreign vessels.

The vessel Shi Yan 6 is likely to dock in Sri Lanka to conduct research along with the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA), ANI reported citing Sri Lankan newspaper Daily Mirror.

During her visit to Sri Lanka, US Under Secretary Victoria Nuland raised concerns about the Chinese vessel coming to Sri Lanka.

While mentioning SOP in place, Sabry reportedly told Nuland that Sri Lanka is ‘even-handed’ in its approach and ‘could not exclude China from the process.

India previously raised concerns about Chinese spy vessel Yuan Wang-5 when it had docked in Sri Lanka with India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar raising issue of India’s security.

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