Hambantota Port to China India raises security concerns

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By 2017-12-16

India expects Sri Lanka to be mindful of its "security concerns and sensitivities", the External Affairs Ministry said on Thursday while reacting to the Sri Lankan Government handing over the Hambantota Port to China on a 99-year lease last week.
Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar also made it clear that India's relations with Sri Lanka "stand on its own and is not dependent on our relations with any third country".

He said that India was confident of the strength of enduring ties with Sri Lanka which were deep-rooted and multidimensional.
"We continue to take up with Sri Lanka issues related to the security concerns in the region and expect that our Sri Lankan friends will keep in mind our security concerns and sensitivities," he said.

Two Chinese firms - the Hambantota International Port Group and the Hambantota International Port Services managed by the China Merchants Port Holdings Company - and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority will own the port and the investment zone around it.
The port, overlooking the Indian Ocean, is expected to play a key role in China's Belt and Road initiative, which will link ports and roads between China and Europe.

In order to allay India's security concerns over the Chinese Navy's presence in Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had earlier ruled out the possibility of the strategic port being used as a "military base" by any foreign
country.

Answering another query regarding reports of Maldives signing a free trade agreement with China, he said that India expects that as a close and friendly neighbour, the Maldives will be sensitive to its concerns in keeping with its 'India First' policy.

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