Sri Lanka relents, asks China to defer ship visit

Sri Lanka has asked China to indefinitely delay a visit by a ship, following objections from India, official sources said on Friday.

The Yuan Wang 5 is en route from the Chinese port of Jiangyin and due in the Chinese-run Sri Lankan port of Hambantota on August 11, according to analytics website  MarineTraffic.

The External Affairs Ministry last week said that it will closely monitor “any bearing on India’s security and economic interests and takes all necessary measures to safeguard them”.

In a written request, the Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry told the Chinese Embassy in Colombo not to go ahead with the visit, said an official involved in the process.

“The Ministry wishes to request that the arrival date of the vessel Yuan Wang 5 in Hambantota to be deferred until further consultations are made on this matter,” the request says.

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe assured political leaders on Friday that the visit will not go ahead as planned.

Concerns were raised after reports claimed that the vessel was involved in space and satellite tracking.

Earlier this week, Colombo appeared to brush aside Indian concerns, saying the vessel was coming only to refuel and replenish supplies and would not undertake any work in Sri Lankan waters.

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