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India, Sri Lanka ink civilian nuclear deal
February 17, 2015, 4:02 am

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena (L) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave their hands before a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, Feb. 16, 2015 [Xinhua]

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena (L) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave their hands before a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, Feb. 16, 2015 [Xinhua]

Sri Lanka and India have signed a civilian nuclear deal during President Maithripala Sirisena’s visit to New Delhi.

The deal would enable Sri Lanka to receive training from India for its nuclear program.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India and Sri Lanka had also agreed to expand defence and strategic cooperation.

An international embargo placed on India over its atomic bomb tests in 1974 and 1998 was lifted seven years ago, allowing the nation to begin selling reactors overseas.

Sri Lanka and India began talks on a civilian nuclear cooperation pact in 2012 and held another two rounds of talks last year.

The agreement “would facilitate cooperation in the transfer and exchange of knowledge and expertise, sharing of resources, capacity building and training of personnel in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including use of radioisotopes, nuclear safety, radiation safety, nuclear security, radioactive waste management and nuclear and radiological disaster mitigation and environmental protection”, said an official statement.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, the new Sri Lankan government gave the $1.5 billion Chinese-funded port project a go ahead.

The island nation has around $6 billion worth of Chinese-backed investments, including the $1.5 billion project now under construction of offices, hotels, apartment buildings, and shopping centers on reclaimed land in Colombo that is the largest foreign investment in the country’s history. The leading provider of loans to Sri Lanka, China is also financing a $1.3 coal power plant and $1 billion highway.

Contrary to media reports and analysis, however, Rajitha Senaratne, a Cabinet spokesman, said Sri Lanka does not “need to tilt towards any side.”

“China has been a historical friend of ours,” he was quoted as saying by Associated Press.

 

TBP and Agencies 

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