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Colombo denies North Korean arms purchase

[TamilNet, Saturday, 11 December 2010 10:05 No Comment]

Following a report in the New York Times of the alleged Sri Lanka’s purchases of rocket launchers from North Korea in the Spring of 2009 despite protests by American Diplomats, a senior Sri Lanka official involved in procurement of arms told local media that "there hadn’t been any transactions with NK [North Korea] for a long time." The official added that Sri Lanka "never purchased any arms, ammunition and equipment from North Korea during the war against the LTTE," according to the Island, a pro-Government Colombo daily. NYT wrote that "American diplomats have confronted foreign governments about shadowy front companies, secretive banks and shippers around the globe," saying information was obtained from recently released WikiLeaks cables.

Sri Lanka official told the paper that "the international media may have wrongly reported that Sri Lanka was acquiring arms from NK, whereas the actual beneficiary of such arms sales could have been the LTTE," and that Sri Lanka broke-off ties to North Korea after suspecting North Korea was supporting the JVP-led insurgency in 1971.

Arms from North Korea to Sri Lanka  Seized in Thailand

However, in a December 2009 report posted in Pakistan Defense ministry website said:

    Thai authorities on Saturday seized a Russian Air Craft carrying 35 tons of weapons. The plane is heading from North Korea to Sri Lanka, AP and UPI reports says.
    Thailand detained five crew members of a cargo plane making a fueling stopover at Bangkok`s Don Muang airport Friday (11) night.
    "There were a lot of weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades, missiles and other war weapons," said Lt. Gen. Thangai Prasajaksattru, commander of the Central Investigation Bureau. At least 48 rocket-propelled grenades and 20 anti-aircraft missile launchers were among the confiscated items.

Sri Lanka authorities said there were no "official shipments either by air or sea from North Korea scheduled."

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