NEW DELHI: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday rejected media reports alleging an Indian hand in a plot to assassinate him and a former Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka during a telephone call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"The President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena called Prime Minister Modi today," the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement.
"The President of Sri Lanka stated that he categorically rejected the reports in sections of media about him alluding to the involvement of India in any manner whatsoever in an alleged plot to assassinate the President and a former Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka," the statement said.
"He mentioned that the mischevous and malafide reports were utterly baseless and false, and seemed intended to create misunderstanding between the two leaders as well as damage the cordial relations between the two friendly neighbours," it stated.
According to the statement, Sirisena apprised Modi of the "urgent steps taken by him personally and the Sri Lankan government to publicly reject these reports. Sirisena also said that he met Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka earlier in the day in this connection.
"The President also stated that he regards the Prime Minister as a true friend of Sri Lanka, as also a close personal friend," the statement said.
"He stressed that he greatly valued the mutually beneficial ties between India and Sri Lanka, and remained steadfast to work with the Prime Minister for futher strengthening them."
According to the PMO statement, Modi appreciated the prompt steps taken by Sirisena and the Sri Lankan government to firmly refute the malicious reports by publicly clarifying the matters.
"He (Modi) also reiterated India's emphasis on 'Neighbourhood First' policy and the priority the government of India and he personally attach to developing even stronger all-round cooperation between the two countries," it stated.
This development comes ahead of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's visit to India starting on Thursday. Modi and Wickremesinghe are scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting here on Saturday.