:The Sri Lankan Government had clarified its position on the South China Sea issue, the Xinhua Chinese news agency quoted the Chinese Embassy in Colombo as saying.
Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne has clarified a statement made in Vietnam regarding the South China Sea issue when he met the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka and reiterated the country’s support of China, an embassy official said on Saturday.
Jayaratne had assured the Chinese Ambassador Wu Jianghao on 12 May that he and Sri Lanka took the stance that the South China Sea issue should be resolved through bilateral negotiations between the countries involved.
The clarification was made due to publicity given to statements reported by the Vietnamese media attributed to the Prime Minister when Jayaratne was undertaking a tour to that country earlier this month.
Vietnamese media reported on May 9 that the visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne told the Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung that the East China Sea (South China Sea) disputes must be settled through peaceful measures in respect of international law. The parties involved should not conduct unilateral moves which may intensify tension, according to these reports.
Regarding China’s oil rig 981 in South China Sea, the report said that Sri Lanka supported Vietnam’s stance, requested for China’s strict adherence to international law and withdrawal of its oil rig 981 from Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, so as to ensure peace and stability in the region.
However, almost immediately the External Affairs Ministry issued a statement insisting that the Sri Lankan government took a contrary stance.
“It is reiterated that the disputes concerning the South China Sea need to be settled bilaterally through negotiations by the concerned parties. This has been Sri Lanka’s consistent position on the said issue,” the short statement by the External Affairs Ministry said.
Upon his return from Vietnam the Sri Lankan Prime Minister met with the Chinese Ambassador and made his and the Sri Lankan government’s stance clear and emphasized support to China on the South China Sea situation