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Rediff.com  » News » India always first choice for any deal: Lanka

India always first choice for any deal: Lanka

June 02, 2007 13:53 IST

Taking exception to India insisting that the island nation should not seek weapons from Pakistan or China, a Sri Lankan Minister has said that Colombo was 'compelled' to transact with countries, which actually fulfill its military requirement.

D M Jayaratne, Minister of Plantation Industries and senior Vice President of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party, said the island nation, whose forces have been battling the Tamil Tiger rebels in the troubled northeast, had to purchase the right kind of weapons to fulfill its needs and therefore had to look for those who prepared to provide them to Sri Lanka.

"India is our closest friend. It is essential for us to maintain that status. But when it comes to weapons we are compelled to transact with countries which actually fulfill our country's military requirement," Jayaratne was quoted as saying in the private Daily Mirror on Saturday.

His remarks followed National Security Advisor M K Narayanan's recent remarks in Chennai that Sri Lanka should not seek weapons from Pakistan or China, but should come to India for its requirements.

Sri Lanka's Buddhist monk's party, or the JHU, which is the strongest ally of President Mahinda Rajapakse, insisted that Colombo could buy weapons from anyone it wished.

"India should realise that Sri Lanka has the right to transact with any nation. However if India comes up with a favourable deal, India will always be the first choice since it is our neighbour," JHU spokesman Udaya Gammanpila said.
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