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India will always be Colombo’s first choice, says FM

Foreign Minister Sarath Amunugama dispelled concerns of China “taking over” a strategic port located on the southern part of the island nation and of Colombo drifting into Beijing’s sphere of influence.

India will “always” be Sri Lanka’s first choice, Amunugama said while speaking to India Today in Colombo. Amunugama underlined that Sri Lanka does not want to be “dragged into military and strategic interests of any country” and that “Sri Lanka will protect its sovereignty”.

Amunugama spoke about the Hambantota port, which has been leased out to a Chinese company, and called it a completely “Lankan operation”.

“No Chinese submarines can dock here… Just because we take loan from China, it does not mean we will subscribe to their strategic interests,” Amunugama told India Today.

Amunugama also spoke about the recent political crisis that rocked the island nation. Political developments in Sri Lanka are being closely watched after Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena ousted PM Ranil Wickramsinghe and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new prime minister.