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Hambantota port deal 'virtually finalised' says minister

Sri Lanka's minister of ports and shipping, Mahinda Samarasinghe, said this week that an agreement was "virtually finalised" with China Merchants Port Holdings on the Hambantota port city deal. 

“I don’t see any major issues now on the table. We’re confident we can finish it soon,” Mr Samarasinghe was quoted by Economy Next as saying. 

“The Chinese side displayed a positive attitude and the agreement is virtually finalised. We can finish it fairly soon.” 

The deal, which was initially embarked on by the Rajapaksa government, has been met with protests from Buddhist monks and Sinhala voters who have accused the current government of clandestinely selling the country to China. 

Responding to the criticisms, Mr Samarasinghe said, “nothing should be hidden."   

“The negotiations on Hambantota will be handled by me and me only,” Samarasinghe said. “Earlier there were too many cooks – too many people negotiating on behalf of the government and making conflicting statements which confused even the people with whom we were talking.” 

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