India's interest to participate in Colombo port project long-standing one: MEA

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New Delhi, Feb 12 (PTI) India's interest to participate in the Colombo port project is a long standing one as most of the goods handled at the facility are from and to India, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Friday.

Sri Lanka has cancelled an agreement it had signed with India and Japan for development of the east container terminal (ECT) in the Colombo Port.

'India's interest for participation in the Colombo port is a long standing one since most goods handled there are from and to India,' MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at a media briefing.

'We had, in principle, agreement from the Sri Lankan government in this regard,' he said evading a reply to a question whether Sri Lanka offered India a project to develop the western container terminal project in Colombo port instead of the ECT.

Srivastava further said: 'Current government has, however, expressed a preference in engaging investors directly. I understand discussions are still underway.' India, Japan and Sri Lanka had signed an agreement in 2019 on development of ECT in Colombo port.

But the Sri Lankan government last week decided to hand over the project to a state-run company following an agitation against the venture involving India and Japan.

India considered the terminal project to be an important one and issues relating to it had figured during External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's visit to Colombo last month.

According to reports, Sri Lanka decided to hand over the project to the Sri Lanka Port Authority (SLPA). PTI MPB ZMN