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India signs nuclear pact with Sri Lanka, countering China

India signs nuclear pact with Sri Lanka, countering China

February 16, 2015   04:59 pm

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Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena signed a deal with India to receive training for his country’s civilian nuclear program, a sign of improving ties as he looks to reduce the island nation’s dependence on China.

Mr Sirisena, on his first overseas tour since winning an election last month, hailed his country’s close relations with India in a joint briefing with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. Under the deal, India would provide knowledge and expertise to Sri Lanka as it seeks to build a nuclear plant.

“The bilateral agreement on civil nuclear cooperation is another demonstration of our mutual trust,” Mr Modi told reporters today (Feb 16).

“This is the first such agreement that Sri Lanka has signed. It opens new avenues for cooperation.”

India is one of the few countries with expertise in reactors suited to smaller power grids, and state-run Nuclear Power Corp. has previously expressed interest in exporting them. An international embargo placed on India over its atomic bomb tests in 1974 and 1998 was lifted seven years ago, allowing the nation to begin selling reactors overseas.

Mr Sirisena has promised to rebalance Sri Lanka’s foreign relations away from China. Officials under his predecessor, Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa, had rankled India by suggesting that Pakistan — whose reactors have mostly been built by Chinese companies — may help it build nuclear power plants. (Source – Today Online)

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