Colombo's ties with New Delhi, Beijing not a zero sum game: Envoy

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) India is Sri Lanka's "relative and closest friend" and the island nation's growing close ties with China are not in any way a contraction to that, the Sri Lankan envoy said here Friday.

Addressing a talk at the Foreign Correspondent's Club, High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam said that Sri Lanka's ties with India and with China are "not a zero sum game".

"This is not a zero sum game. We consider India a relative and closest friend with whom we should have avery robust relationship" that should provide "net security in the region and in the maritime domain as well," said Kariyawasam.

He added that while ties with China are "very important and very old", the relationship was mainly concentrated on developmental opportunities.

"China is involved majorly in infrastructure development in his country," the envoy said.

His comments came as Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited China and held talks with the Chinese leadership. China has granted Sri Lanka a development loan worth $2.2 billion for infrastructure projects and agreed to provide defence technology as well as training to the island nation's army.

According to media reports, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told Rajapaksa during their meeting that China will explore the possibility of establishing an industrial zone in Hambantota and also support Sri Lanka to develop capabilities in satellite communication, space technology and maritime industries.

"We don't see any contradiction in this (ties with China)," said Kariyawasam, adding that Sri Lanka was "very clear that any project undertaken by any other country would not affect the strategic balance and peace and security in the region".

He said Colombo is "very conscious that if India is in trouble we will be in trouble too, we are next to India, so why would we make any trouble for India," he added.