Lankan President talks to PM Modi over ‘mischievous’ assassination reports, calls him ‘true friend’

New Delhi: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday had a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi wherein he categorically rejected the media reports about him alluding to the involvement of India in any manner whatsoever in an alleged plot to assassinate the President and a former Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka.

Their telephonic conversation comes hours after a news report in an Indian daily stated that President Sirisena had expressed concerns during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday about his assassination bid by Indian intelligence agency RAW.

“He (President Sirisena) mentioned that the mischievous and mala fide reports were utterly baseless and false, and seemed intended to create misunderstanding between the two leaders as well as damage the cordial relations between the two friendly neighbours,” read a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will be in India on three-day official visit from Thursday.
During his conversation, President Sirisena further apprised Prime Minister Modi of the urgent steps taken by him personally and the Sri Lankan government to publicly reject these reports. In this context, he also recalled his meeting with the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, on Wednesday morning.

“The President also stated that he regards the Prime Minister as a true friend of Sri Lanka, as also a close personal friend. He stressed that he greatly valued the mutually beneficial ties between India and Sri Lanka, and remained steadfast to work with the Prime Minister for further strengthening them,” the statement added.
On his part, Prime Minister Modi “appreciated the prompt steps” taken by President Sirisena and the Sri Lankan government to firmly refute the malicious reports by publicly clarifying the matters.

“He also reiterated India’s emphasis on ‘neighbourhood first’ policy and the priority the Government of India and he personally attach to developing even stronger all-round cooperation between the two countries,” the statement further read.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also asserted that the country’s relationship with India is intense and encompasses multiple spheres including intelligence sharing.

On Wednesday, a leading Indian daily carried a news report from Colombo quoting sources in a Cabinet meeting that the Indian intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was ‘trying to kill’ President Sirisena, but ‘Prime Minister Narendra Modi may not be aware of the plan.’

Lanka’s Foreign Office, President Sirisena’s Advisor and Coordinating Secretary, Shiral Lakthilaka, and Joint Cabinet Spokesperson Minister Rajitha Senaratne also refuted the media reports and asserted that the Sri Lankan President did not make any such statement claiming that India’s RAW agent was involved in the alleged plot to assassinate him.