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Sri Lanka denies Chinese claim Sirisena promised resumption of 'Port City'

The Sri Lankan government has contradicted China’s foreign ministry, who quoted President Sirisena as saying the Port City project would resume.

A Chinese foreign ministry official said on Thursday, the visiting president had “promised” the controversial project would resume once problems are “sorted out”.

"He (Sirisena) stressed that what happened around the port city in Colombo is rather temporary, and he said the problem does not lie with the Chinese side and hopes to continue with the project after things are sorted out," said Liu Jianchao, assistant minister of foreign affairs, according to Reuters.

However Sri Lanka’s Deputy External Affairs Minister Ajith P. Perera on Friday dismissed the statement, saying the Port City project was not even a subject of discussion, reported the Daily Mirror.

"No decision has been made on whether the project will be completely halted or continued or concerning the issues that have been highlighted regarding the project. The only mention by President Sirisena with concern to the project was that it’s a temporary issue and that Sri Lanka continues to welcome Chinese investors, which in no way implies that the Sri Lankan government or the President has given the green light for the project to continue," he said.

China on Thursday urged Sri Lanka to ensure the legitimate interests of its companies were protected during the Sri Lankan president’s official visit to Beijing.

"China's cooperation with Sri Lanka is based on mutual benefit and a win-win situation, without any political preconditions," China’s president, Xi Jinping was quoted by China’s state news agency, Xinhua, as saying.

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