Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s office on Wednesday “clarified” that he did not mention “any involvement of an Indian intelligence service” in an alleged plot to assassinate him, at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.
However, he admitted that discussions on the said plot had taken place.
“In the meeting, the President emphasised the need to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the alleged assassination plot,” the President’s Media Division (PMD) said in a press release. “The PMD also wishes to state that the High Commissioner of lndia called on the President this morning and during the meeting, all matters were clarified, and bilateral relations were reassured,” it said.
The statement follows reports in select Sri Lankan media and The Hindu about Mr. Sirisena reportedly accusing India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of plotting his assassination.
The PMD also said “among other topics discussed at various times during the Cabinet meeting, was the development of the Eastern terminal of the Colombo port. The President highlighted the importance of Sri Lanka having a deep-sea port terminal in the interest of the national economy.”
The statement further said lndia and Sri Lanka maintained “cordial relations and cooperation since the inception of this government.”
Additionally, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry and the Cabinet issued official clarifications on Wednesday. “The Ministry wishes to clarify that the media reports in this connection are baseless and false,” an official statement said.
Relations between Sri Lanka and India at the highest levels of government were strong, the Ministry said, “encompassing multiple spheres including intelligence sharing.”
Separately, the Cabinet Secretary issued a note denying news items on the Cabinet meeting, “in print and electronic media”, terming them “totally false.” It said Mr. Sirisena informed the Cabinet of important matters of mutual interest to India and Sri Lanka. “No memoranda pertaining to the projects intended to be implemented in the country, either by the Government of India or Indian Companies relating to the field of infrastructure development, had been included in the agenda of the said Cabinet meeting,” the note said.
Responding to a question at the Cabinet press briefing earlier on Wednesday, Health Minister and Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the reports were false. Asked if what his Cabinet colleagues had said was untrue, he replied, “They may have had other political reasons to say that.”
Our correspondent spoke to two Cabinet ministers and got indirect confirmations from two others before filing the report ‘Sri Lankan President alleges that RAW is plotting his assassination’ (Oct 17, 2018). The Sri Lankan government’s denial admits there was a discussion of an assassination plot but denies making any mention of Indian intelligence services. This is at variance with what we were told after extensive checking and cross-checking.