Jaishankar to visit Sri Lanka, may discuss debt crisis

January 13, 2023 10:19 pm | Up to date January 14, 2023 12:35 am IST – NEW DELHI/COLOMBO

Exterior Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. File
| Photograph Credit score: ANI

Exterior Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar will journey to Sri Lanka subsequent week, sources instructed The Hindu. This shall be his first journey to the nation since President Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn-in last July after road protests compelled out the earlier Rajapaksa regime.

Officers mentioned that whereas a full evaluate of bilateral ties is on the agenda, the go to comes amidst efforts by the Sri Lankan authorities to get “written monetary assurances” from their closest and largest collectors — India and China — on restructuring their debt. That is wanted to make progress on their bailout plan being mentioned with the Worldwide Financial Fund (IMF).

Mr. Jaishankar’s two-day go to to Colombo, scheduled for January 19-20, will comply with a go to by a ministerial delegation of the Communist Celebration of China (CPC). The visits, coming back-to-back, are essential for Colombo to avail itself of the $2.9 billion IMF bundle beneath its Prolonged Fund Facility. The Sri Lankan authorities has mentioned that it hopes to borrow more cash as soon as the IMF programme kicks in, to set its financial system on a path to restoration following final yr’s crushing meltdown. China, Japan, and India are Sri Lanka’s three largest bilateral creditors, and Colombo is relying on their cooperation for financial revival.

EAM follows Chinese language go to

On Friday, the Chinese language Embassy in Colombo introduced {that a} “high-level delegation of the CPC led by the Worldwide Division Vice Minister Chen Zhou will go to Sri Lanka 14-18 January, the primary official go to of the CPC to the island within the new yr of 2023 and after its twentieth Nationwide Congress.”

India has been involved closely in assisting Sri Lanka’s economic recovery programme after a near-debt default final yr, and has been coordinating with different companions just like the US and Japan, each on a bilateral stage and on the Quad’s conferences, in an effort to discover methods to assist Sri Lanka overcome its monetary disaster. Nonetheless, strategic ties hit a block over the Sri Lankan authorities’s choice to permit a Chinese language satellite tv for pc monitoring vessel into Hambantota port final August, a growth that each India and the US formally protested in opposition to.

In one other indicator of the rising faultlines in Sri Lanka, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung instructed the BBC information service on Thursday that China shouldn’t play “spoiler”, and that Beijing should present the mandatory financing assurances immediately “for the sake of the Sri Lankan individuals”.

The Exterior Affairs Minister was final in Colombo in March 2022, as India introduced an unprecedented $4 billion help bundle to assist Sri Lanka on the top of its disaster. He earlier met with the Sri Lankan International Minister Ali Sabry on the sidelines of the ASEAN convention in Cambodia in August, assuring him of India’s dedication to be a “reliable pal and dependable accomplice” to Sri Lanka.

Commerce and transit on agenda

Mr. Jaishankar may also talk about trade and transit ties with India’s neighbour. New Delhi and Colombo are in talks to boost ferry connectivity, following the restart of Chennai-Jaffna flights final month, for the primary time after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wickremesinghe authorities has dedicated to resuming negotiations on the stalled Financial and Technological Cooperation Settlement as effectively.

Mr. Jaishankar’s go to comes whilst Mr. Wickremesinghe is holding talks with Sri Lanka’s Tamil political management on a sturdy political resolution. The Tamil events have expressed considerations over the absence of any tangible motion on their calls for pertaining to land grabs within the north and east, the discharge of political prisoners and solutions to households of disappeared individuals. These are points that the Exterior Affairs Minister had raised final yr, in talks with the then-Rajapaksa administration.

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