BEIJING, June 25 (Xinhua) — Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabri held talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang in Beijing on the 25th, and held talks on the future development of bilateral relations and Sri Lanka’s severe economic crisis leading to foreign debt default and other issues.
This is Sabri’s first visit to China after Sri Lanka’s debt crisis last year led to large-scale political and economic turmoil in the island nation.
Official reports of the meeting between the two leaders cited Qin’s call to promote joint high-quality Belt and Road projects.
China will continue to provide assistance within its capacity for Sri Lanka’s economic and social development and improvement of people’s livelihood.
China is Sri Lanka’s largest lender, and its loans account for 10 percent of Colombo’s total external debt, which exceeds $51 billion.
In March, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) provided debt-ridden Sri Lanka with a nearly $3 billion bailout to help stabilize the country’s economy after it was hit by a devastating economic crisis last year.
Debt-ridden Sri Lanka is still struggling to normalize its crisis-hit economy after announcing its first default on its debt last April.
India has provided emergency aid of about $4 billion in line credits and other means to help Sri Lanka, which has effectively declared bankruptcy and defaulted on all foreign loans.
While backing the IMF loan to Sri Lanka, China has kept silent on reports that it would not support the IMF’s debt reduction target to repay the loan and offered Colombo a two-year moratorium on loan repayments.
Official reports of the Chin-Sabri talks did not mention any discussions about the loan issue.
According to official data, Sri Lanka’s total debt is US$83.6 billion, of which US$42.6 billion is external and US$42 billion is domestic.
In April 2022, Sri Lanka announced its first debt default, the worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948, as a shortage of foreign exchange sparked public protests.
Months of street protests led to the ouster of then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in mid-July. Rajapaksa started talks with the IMF after refusing to seek support from the IMF.
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a syndicated news feed, the latest staff may not have modified or edited the body of content)