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Sri Lanka thanks China for civil war help

[AFP, Wednesday, 14 December 2011 08:32 No Comment]

Sri Lankan soldiers (AFP File, Ishara S.Kodikara) Sri Lanka on Tuesday said it was "true friends" with China due to military assistance provided during the island’s bloody civil war, underlining growing links with Beijing.

China’s influence in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and other surrounding countries is a sensitive subject with neighbouring India, which itself has emerged as a strong regional player in Asia as its economy has boomed.

Army chief Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya thanked China for its "unfailing support" in helping to train the Sri Lankan army, which wiped out the Tamil Tiger rebels in a brutal offensive in 2009 after decades of war.

Jayasuriya told visiting Chinese General Ma Xiaotian "how the nation, as the war was on, looked at the true friends of Sri Lanka with a deep sense of pride and appreciation", the army said on its website.

China was a key supplier of arms and aircraft during Sri Lanka’s conflict with the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, who in 2006 controlled up to one-third of the island.

China is also actively involved in funding infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka through loans to build railways, roads, a cargo terminal and an airport in the island.

India traditionally considers itself Sri Lanka’s closest ally and it enjoys close ethnic and cultural ties with the island.

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