Foreign Secretary Kwatra discusses Lanka situation and India's ongoing support with President Rajapaksa, PM Wickremesinghe
Colombo: A four-member Indian delegation led by Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra on Thursday met Sri Lanka's top leadership, including President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and underlined that India stands ready to help the island nation's quick economic recovery through promoting investments, connectivity and strengthening economic linkage.
Sri Lanka is facing the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948 which has led to an acute shortage of essential items like food, medicine, cooking gas and fuel across the island nation.
The delegation first met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
During the meeting, Kwatra told Rajapaksa that India, as a close friend, will extend its fullest support to Sri Lanka in overcoming the difficult situation, the newsfirst.lk website reported.
The delegation includes Secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Finance of India, Ajay Seth; Chief Economic Advisor to the Government of India Dr V Anantha Nageswaran and Joint Secretary of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Kartik Pande of the Ministry of External Affairs of India, Sri Lanka's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The delegation reviewed the already provided assistance in terms of fuel, medicine, fertiliser and other essentials and said the Indian government is committed to support Sri Lanka, the report said.
The delegation also met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and discussed Sri Lanka's economic situation.
In a tweet, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said Kwatra, accompanied by Seth and Nageswaran, met President Rajapaksa and "held productive discussions on the current situation in Sri Lanka and India's ongoing support".
During the meeting, the Indian delegation underlined that India stands ready to help Sri Lanka in quick economic recovery through promoting investments, connectivity and strengthening economic linkage, he said.
"Reiterated Sri Lanka's centrality to India's #NeighbourhoodFirst policy. Both sides reaffirmed commitment to development of India-Lanka ties," Bagchi said.
The Indian delegation's visit coincides with the visit of the IMF delegation who are engaging Colombo for the proposed staff-level agreement which should eventuate with a possible bailout.
Sri Lanka is facing the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948 which has prompted an acute shortage of essential items like food, medicine, cooking gas and fuel across the island nation.
In another tweet, Bagchi said Kwatra along with Seth and Nageswaran called on Wickremesinghe and discussed Sri Lanka's economic situation and highlighted India's continuing support and assistance to the people of the island nation.
On Wednesday, Wickremesinghe in Parliament said India had stretched its maximum thus far by providing USD 4 billion worth of emergency assistance since January when the economic crisis came to bite.
He was banking on extended credit lines for further purchase of fuel.
The nearly-bankrupt country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, had announced in April that it is suspending nearly USD 7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about USD 25 billion due through 2026.
Sri Lanka's total foreign debt stands at USD 51 billion.
The Indian credit lines since January have provided a lifeline to Sri Lanka amid growing public dissent over the worsening economic conditions.
Sri Lanka's key need right now is to secure bridging finance until the realisation of the IMF facility, a local official said. India will continue to be a key partner in this endeavour, he added.
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