China on Friday refused to comment on reports that Sri Lanka had rejected its request to let one of its submarines dock in Colombo, PTI reported. The news gains significance as it took place while Prime Minister Narendra Modi was visiting the island nation. China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang, however, said Beijing’s ‘traditional friendship’ with Colombo was good for peace and stability in the region.

Geng asked reporters to get a reaction from defence officials instead. “What I can tell you is that China and Sri Lanka enjoy a traditional friendship. The two sides maintain sound cooperation in the fields of politics, economy, culture and military to military exchanges,” Geng said.

On Thursday, Modi had met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Maithripala Sirisena. The Sri Lankan prime minister will visit Beijing to attend the Belt and Road Forum on May 14 and 15.

Colombo had last permitted a Chinese submarine to dock in its capital in October 2014, and India had expressed its opposition to the move. India is concerned about Beijing’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean.