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India is always 1st choice says Sirisena's foreign minister

Sri Lanka's newly appointed foreign minister, Sarath Amunugama reassured India that it would always be "Colombo's first choice" during an interview to India Today this week. 

Amunugama, who was appointed by President Sirisena following the sacking of Ranil Wickremesinghe last month and appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place, said "No Chinese submarine can dock here. Sri Lanka will protect its sovereignty."

"Just because we take loan from China, it does not mean we will subscribe to their strategic interests."

"We don't want to be dragged into the military and strategic interests of any country."

"Nobody should infringe on the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. We are grateful to India for respecting that. There might be some differences but largely it is a strong relationship."

Amunugama was evasive about accepting India's involvement in the development of Trincomalee harbour however. 

"East terminal is crucial because it is a deep water port. We all agree and the President has intimated that to Prime Minister Modi himself that the west terminal can certainly be developed by India. Sri Lanka is looking at developing the east terminal on its own."

"Ranil Wickremesinghe absolutely had no business to go to India or any country and give assurances regarding this port. That is not how it works. It has to be passed by parliament. It was under discussion but was not signed and sealed. We will have to heed the opinion of the workers and the trade unions that it [developing the east terminal] has to be a Sri Lankan operation."