Sri Lanka backs India's concerns over China's OBOR project

Sri Lanka, which attended the just concluded Belt and Road Forum here, has backed India's concerns on "sovereignty and territorial integrity" over the OBOR project, saying it is difficult for New Delhi to accept the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as it goes through the "heart of Indian interests".

India, which skipped the high-profile meeting, would have joined "very happily" in the One Belt and One Road (OBOR) initiative of China, said Sarath Amanugama, Sri Lanka's Minister on Special Assignment.

"Unfortunately, the issue is going through the heart of Indian interests. If it was some uncontested region, India would have negotiated its way out. Here, especially the Kashmir issue getting dragged into it, makes it difficult for India to be flexible," Minister Amanugama said.

He said India, China and Sri Lanka were very much part of the ancient Silk Road route as the Chinese Buddhist scholars like Faxian visited both India and Sri Lanka leading to big discoveries of Buddhist relics in the island nation.

"(Chinese) President Xi Jinping has emphasised connectivity. These countries were connected many centuries ago. This will link up these countries on certain rational basis. Once the regional problems are resolved, then India has to play big role in the initiative," he said, adding, "India anyway has to play big role because you cannot think of a belt and road without going over and close to India."

India skipped the meeting due to its sovereignty concerns over the $50 billion CPEC, which goes through Pakistan- occupied Kashmir. The two-day conference in Beijing brought together leaders from 29 countries.

Besides Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe, the summit was attended by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and several other leaders, heads of UN, World Bank and IMF.

Source - Times of India

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