US worried about Chinese intel in Sri Lanka

By our special correspondent

The US is looking to make strong inroads in Sri Lanka to counter the Chinese presence in the country, diplomatic sources told The Sunday Morning.

During a visit to the US last week, Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana was offered increased US military assistance which will be used to monitor Chinese intelligence services said to be operating in Sri Lanka, sources added.

The US received information that Chinese intelligence services had entered Sri Lanka with or without the knowledge of Sri Lankan officials.

China has already denied claims it has a military presence in Sri Lanka but the US is not convinced.
Meanwhile, in a joint statement yesterday, the US offered to expand counter-terrorism cooperation with Sri Lanka.

The joint statement was issued by the US and Sri Lanka following the conclusion of a visit to the US by the Minister Marapana.

The Foreign Minister was in the US to take part in the third US-Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue held in Washington, DC.

Both governments welcomed ongoing bilateral security sector cooperation, including US support for demining, joint military engagements, Sri Lanka’s peacekeeping operations, human rights training for Sri Lankan officers, and visits by US ships and military officials.

The two countries also agreed to expand military-to-military cooperation.

When contacted, Defence Ministry sources said that they were aware of possible Chinese intelligence officers operating in Sri Lanka but did not see it as a threat to national security.