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Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry affirmed his country’s commitment to safeguarding India’s national security interests on Monday, stating that Colombo, as a responsible neighbour, will not allow anyone to harm India’s security.

The Minister also addressed India’s concerns regarding the visits of Chinese research vessels to the island nation, saying that they would like to work with other countries in a transparent manner but not at the cost of others.

“We have very clearly stated that we would like to work with all countries, but any reasonable concerns regarding Indian security will be taken into note, and we will not allow anyone to harm that. Subject to that, of course, in a very transparent manner, we would like to work with all countries,” the Minister said in an interview with ANI.

“I just got to know that recently China has become India’s biggest trading partner. So similarly, like you work with that. We would also like to work with everyone, but that should not come at anyone else, third parties cost. So therefore, let me reiterate, as a responsible neighbour and a civilizational partner we will not undertake anything that would harm the legitimate security concerns of India,” he added.

When asked about the ongoing elections in India, the Minister said that the exercise is a celebration of democracy and asserted that Sri Lanka would work with India irrespective of its election outcome.

“It’s a celebration of democracy, the largest democracy in the world. Indian people are educated. Indian people will know what is good for them. I think when it comes to elections, it is domestic matter. It is the public who must decide and others only should watch. We see this celebration is taking place of a democracy. We want a peaceful conclusion of this and we will work with any outcome with the indian public decide,” he said.

Last year, India had expressed its security concerns over the docking of the vessel at the Sri Lankan port as it was shown as a research vessel with the capability of mapping the ocean bed, which is critical to anti-submarine operations of the Chinese Navy. The Chinese research ship had docked at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar while commenting on Chinese spy vessel Yuan Wang-5 which had docked in Sri Lanka, said that any developments that have a bearing on India’s security are “obviously of an interest to us”.

“What happens in our neighbourhood, any developments which have a bearing on our security, obviously are of an interest to us,” Jaishankar said at a joint press conference after the 9th India-Thailand Joint Commission Meeting.