Gotabaya: Only concerned about security aspects of Hambantota

[TamilNet, Saturday, 21 December 2019, 23:15 GMT]
SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was only seeking to ensure the security aspects of the Hambantota port and he doesn't intend to renegotiate the commercial deal as a whole, reported Xinhua, the state-operated news agency of China this week. "I am now not here to renegotiate the agreement as it is a commercial contract and I am not worried about the commercial aspect. But I am concerned about the security aspect as to whether there are any security lapses. That is what I am discussing with China,” Xinhua quoted Gotabaya Rajapaksa as saying on Thursday.

"I want Hambantota to be just like Colombo Port and all our other ports. We should have control over its security because this is Sri Lanka's asset,” the Xinhua report cited Gotabaya Rajapaksa as saying to foreign correspondents in Colombo on Thursday.

The port was commercially leased to China on a 99-year term as part of a debt-trap swap deal by the Ranil Wickramasinghe's government, which came to power with the backing of the West and India in 2015.

The regime change occurred in 2015 after Mahinda Rajapaksa government went to the extent of allowing Chinese submarines to dock at Colombo airport.

Mr Wickramasinghe was defending the lease with the argument that the security of the port remained with the SL State.

Now, Gotabaya Rajapaksa is also echoing the same argument, but in a different tone.

The Chinese embassy in Colombo issued a statement welcoming the stand expressed by Mr Gotabaya on Friday:

Full text of the statement by the Embassy of China in Colombo follows:

Press Release of the Embassy of China 20191220

On December 19, H.E. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa met with the Foreign correspondents based in Colombo, making it clear that the Sri Lankan government will not re-negotiate the existing agreement on Hambantota Port, and the commercial contract that has been signed will not be changed due to government changes. The Chinese side highly appreciates the remarks and is willing to guide relevant enterprises to work with the Sri Lankan side to expedite implementing the established agreement and further promote the prosperity and development of Hambantota Port.

China reiterates once again that it highly respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. The security and control of Hambantota Port is entirely in the hands of the Sri Lankan Government and Navy, which is no any different from other ports in Sri Lanka.

External Links:
Xinhua: Sri Lanka not to renegotiate Hambantota Port agreement with China: president



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