Sri Lanka Denies Reports Sirisena Said RAW Plotted Assassination
File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.
File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. (Photo: PTI)

Sri Lanka Denies Reports Sirisena Said RAW Plotted Assassination

The Sri Lankan government on Wednesday rejected as "baseless and false" the media reports that President Maithripala Sirisena had accused India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of plotting his assassination.

A press release by the government read: “The ministry wishes to emphasise that relations between Sri Lanka and India including at the highest levels of government are strong, encompassing multiple spheres including intelligence sharing.”

"It is disappointing therefore that matters of this nature have become the subject of distorted and erroneous media reports taking the President's remarks out of context, which has given rise to further media and social media speculation and the spread of unfounded fear among the public," the statement read.

Also Read : Sri Lankan President Sirisena Alleges RAW ‘Attempting to Kill Him’

Sirisena also spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, to apprise him of the urgent steps taken by the Government of Sri Lanka to publicly reject the reports, as per the press release.

The Sri Lankan president said that he regards PM Modi “as a true friend” of Sri Lanka, and a close personal friend and stressed that he greatly valued the mutually beneficial ties between India and Sri Lanka.

He also mentioned that the mischievous and mala fide reports were “utterly baseless and false”, and seemed intended to create a misunderstanding between the two leaders as well as damage the cordial relations between the two friendly neighbours.

Meanwhile, Modi is said to have appreciated the prompt steps taken by the Sri Lankan president and his government to firmly refute the malicious reports by publicly clarifying the matters.

The press release also stated that Modi reiterated India’s emphasis on the ‘neighbourhood first’ policy and said that the priority of the Government of India was to develop even stronger all-round cooperation between the two countries.

Also Read : In Sirisena-Wickremesinghe, India Has More Trustworthy Allies

Earlier in the day, Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne had dismissed the media reports at a press conference.

Senaratne, also the Minister of Health, read out a statement by Cabinet Secretary S Abeysinghe which said the president had not said anything about RAW plotting to assassinate him.

"The president, as the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers, has paid attention to the printed and electronic media reports on the matters discussed during the Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Secretariat on 16th October 2018. It is stressed that those news are completely untrue,” he said.

The media reports had come 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.

Earlier last month, reports had suggested that the Crime Investigation Department (CID) in Sri Lanka had questioned an anti-corruption crusader named Namal Kumara, who claimed to have knowledge regarding Sirisena’s assassination plot.

Kumara had subsequently led the CID to an Indian national from Kerala named Thomas, who also claimed to have knowledge of the plot.

These reports were, however, dismissed by the government, who warned reporters against spreading disinformation.

(With inputs from PTI)

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