India has discussed with Sri Lankan authorities the proposed visit next week by a Chinese ‘spy ship’ to the Hambantota port in the southern part of the island nation. The government is learnt to have expressed concerns about the likely docking of ‘Yuan Wan 5’ class tracking vessel.
Asked about reports last week that the ‘research’ vessel was likely to reach Hambantota on August 11, the government had said it monitors closely all developments that have a bearing on India’s security. Under a 1987 bilateral agreement, no port in Sri Lanka can be made available for military use by any country in a manner prejudicial to India’s interests.
According to sources, the Indian high commission raised the issue with the Lankan government in Colombo. The government has sought an explanation about the nature and purpose of the visit by the Chinese vessel.
The Lankan media, meanwhile, reported on Monday that the local government is in talks with both China and India to “reach an amicable solution” with regard to the impending docking of China’s ‘Yuan Wan 5’ class tracking vessel.
According to a report in Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times, clearance to anchor the vessel was granted by the country’s foreign and defence ministries several weeks ago, before Ranil Wickremesinghe took office as President.
“Sri Lanka will have to manage the situation at a time when the government is poised to start debt restructuring talks. India and China are two of the biggest creditors and their cooperation is crucial,” it said.