Singapore: Sri Lanka will allow future submarine visits by China provided they are not too frequent, and will keep the neighboring India informed of the visits, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said.
The Sri Lankan Prime Minister, who was on a four-day visit to Singapore, said that the problem with the last visit by a Chinese submarine was that India claimed it was not informed.
“We have put out the criterion for visits by naval ships. Under that, ships including submarines from all countries can visit Sri Lanka. As far as we are concerned if it is a friendly visit we will inform the neighboring countries and we will spread out the (frequency of the) visits,” he said in an interview with The Straits Times.
The visit of the Chinese submarine became an issue since India was not informed ahead of the visit although the Chinese had informed Sri Lanka ahead of the visit.
He suggested that some of the mistrust could have been avoided if India had been kept in the picture about the visit by the Chinese submarine, which was en route to deployment in the Gulf of Aden.
“The problem of the last visit (by a Chinese submarine) was that India claims it was not informed. So far, from what we found out, that seems to be correct. The Chinese had told Sri Lanka, in advance,” he added.
He pointed out that not only India, Japan was also concerned since the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was also visiting Sri Lanka when the Chinese sub docked in the Colombo port.
The Prime Minister said the Sri Lankan government now has its own criteria regarding the visits of foreign ships.
The Sri Lankan PM, who arrived in Singapore on Thursday, had held bilateral meetings with his Singaporean counterpart Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and the ministers for foreign affairs, finance and trade.