NEW DELHI: Sri Lanka's foreign ministry on Wednesday denied that President Maithripala Sirisena had accused India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of plotting his assassination.
On Tuesday, an Indian newspaper had claimed that Sirisena had told ministers at the weekly Cabinet meeting that the Indian intelligence agency was "trying to kill" him, but "Prime Minister Narendra Modi may not be aware of the plan."
The report and subsequent denial come days before Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's scheduled visit to New Delhi on Friday to meet Prime Minister Modi and other senior Indian officials. He is expected to discuss bilateral issues, including several Indian-funded projects in his country.
Last month, following the interrogation of a local anti-corruption sleuth who claimed to know of a plan to assassinate Sirisena and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, an Indian reportedly from Kerala had been arrested by the Sri Lankan CID. At Tuesday's meeting, Sirisena reportedly said "the Indian national must be a RAW agent trying to kill me. The Indian PM may not be aware. That is often the case. Trump may not be aware of CIA's similar moves."
Insisting that the report was "baseless and false," a foreign ministry statement said: "the ministry wishes to emphasize that relations between Sri Lanka and India, including at the highest levels of government, are strong, encompassing multiple spheres, including intelligence sharing. It is disappointing, therefore, that matters of this nature have become the subject of distorted and erroneous media reports taking the President's remarks out of context, which has given rise to further media and social media speculation and the spread of unfounded fear among the public.
"In continuation of the close and regular interaction between Sri Lanka and India at all levels, including at the highest levels of government, President Sirisena had discussions this morning as well at a meeting with the High Commissioner of India in Colombo," it added.