Sirisena calls Modi, rejects reports on ‘RAW assassination plot’

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Wednesday spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the phone and categorically denied media reports that claimed he had accused India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of plotting to assassinate him for opposing the award of a key port project to India.

The Lankan president rejected the claims saying that the media reports intended to create a rift between the two leaders. He assured PM Modi that the Lankan government has publicly denounced these reports and also recalled his meeting today morning with the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, according to a statement made available to the press.

Sirisena reaffirmed that he regards Modi as a friend personally and also valued the mutually beneficial ties between the two countries. PM Modi, in turn, appreciated the prompt clarification by Sri Lanka to refute the “false reports” and reemphasised his policy of ‘neighbourhood first’.

A media report, citing a Sri Lankan ‘ministerial source’, claimed that the Lankan president accused the United National Party (UNP) — senior coalition partner — of not taking the alleged conspiracy to kill him seriously. According to another report, a minister was quoted anonymously as saying that the president accused India’s external intelligence agency RAW of being behind the plot.

Sirisena was apparently unhappy with the inquiry and faulted the law and order minister for what he called the “very slow progress of the inquiry.”

At a press conference last month, one Namal Kumara, claiming to be a representative of the Anti-Corruption Force, disclosed the alleged plot to assassinate the president. A Deputy Inspector-General suspected to be involved in the plot was suspended by the police based on Kumara’s testimony.

The media reports came ahead of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to New Delhi for talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speed up India-backed projects, including the East Terminal project, in the island nation.

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