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International relations

India gains foothold in Sri Lanka with Trincomalee oil tank deal

Debt-ridden island nation helps to fulfill decades-old hope for New Delhi

Ceylon Petroleum Corp.'s oil refinery in Colombo. The CPC along with the government is overwhelmed by debt, giving India an entry point back into the strategically located island nation. (Source photo by Reuters/AP)

COLOMBO -- India's diplomatic patience is bearing fruit in Sri Lanka after the South Asian power signed a deal with its weaker southern neighbor to rehabilitate a majority of 85 abandoned giant oil tanks on the slopes of Trincomalee Harbor, the world's second-deepest natural port and one that New Delhi has been coveting for over 30 years.

The deal, which was finalized during a flurry of diplomatic activity around the beginning of the year, is being flagged within Sri Lanka's foreign policy circles as the latest barometer showing warmer ties between countries with a checkered diplomatic history. That history has recently paved the way for China to make inroads into the South Asian island, giving India security concerns along its southern flank.

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