COLOMBO, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka's Ports Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said on Friday that the agreement between China and Sri Lanka to manage a port in Hambantota in the island's south was purely a commercial agreement.
In a local media report, Samarasinghe refuted allegations that the port would be used for military purposes. He said China Merchants Port Holdings, which owned 69.9 percent of the port on a 99-year lease, would be taking care of bunkering services, facilitating export and import activities and transshipment of vehicles at the port.
The minister said the Sri Lankan Navy would remain there.
The minister strongly denied allegations that appeared in an article published in the New York Times recently, which stated that the agreement signed between China and Sri Lanka over the Hambantota Port gave China control of territory along a critical commercial and military waterway.
Sri Lanka's former central bank governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, quoted in a local media report, also denied all allegations, saying that the article fell under the "fake news" category and had a lot of inaccuracies.
Cabraal termed the article as "shocking" and said he would expose its subjectivity soon.