NEWS
18/10/2018 10:54 AM IST | Updated 18/10/2018 10:56 AM IST

Sri Lanka Says President Maithiripala Sirisena Never Said India's RAW Was Planning To Kill Him

Sirisena called up Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after reports said he had blamed RAW while discussing an alleged assassination plot against him.

A file photo of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
PRAKASH SINGH via Getty Images
A file photo of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

NEW DELHI--The office of Sri Lankan President Maithiripala Sirisena has denied that he said in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that India's external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), was "trying to kill" him.

In an official statement, the President's Media Division said that, "the president has not mentioned any involvement of an Indian intelligence service in the alleged plot to assassinate him".

Sirisena also called up Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi "to clear the air" after reports were published saying he had blamed RAW while discussing the alleged assassination plot against him, The Hindu reported. On Wednesday, The Hindu had quoted two anonymous cabinet ministers that Sirisena said RAW was "trying to kill him" and that "Prime Minister Modi may not be aware of the plan".

Soon after the report was published in The Hindu and some Sri Lankan media outlets, Indian diplomats reacted swiftly. The High Commissioner to Sri Lanka called on Sirisena to discuss the matter and on Tuesday evening, Modi and Sirisena spoke over the phone.

To The Hindu, the official spokesperson of India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Raveesh Kumar, paraphrased the conversation between Sirisena and Modi thus, "Mr. Sirisena said his words had been misquoted and distorted, and he denied having said that Indian agencies would be involved in the case in any manner. Prime Minister Narendra Modi appreciated his prompt action in clarifying the issue and initiating the call."

The office of Sirisena, however, put out a statement saying that the call was about "developmental activities in Sri Lanka".

In its earlier statement explaining the controversy, Sirisena's media division also stated that "discussions have taken place about the alleged plot to assassinate the President". But it quotes Sirisena as saying that there was a need to conduct a "comprehensive investigation into the alleged assassination plot". It further said that India's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka had called on Sirisena and all matters were "clarified" and bilateral relations "reassured".

The statement also said it was unfortunate that some parties with "vested interests" were resorting to spreading "malevolent manipulations" detrimental to the existing good relations between the two countries and the "excellent personal rapport" between Sirisena and Modi.