Japan promises visiting Sri Lanka PM infrastructure, maritime aid

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 06, 2015 7:27 AM

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged aid to Sri Lanka on Tuesday in a meeting with his counterpart, Ranil Wickremsinghe, and reiterated a promise to help Sri Lanka bolster its maritime security and to provide patrol ships.

Sri Lanka is moving away from the former government's pro-China stance and has suspended most Chinese-backed infrastructure projects.

It is also trying to put more emphasis on ties with Japan, which dovetails with Abe's hope to counter a rising China.

Sri Lankan government officials said in July they were seeking sources of cheaper funding to replace about 70 percent of the more than $5 billion in debt from Chinese lenders with loans at cheaper interest and longer durations.

Abe pledged about 45.4 billion yen ($377 million) in infrastructure aid, while Wickremsinghe said his government would create a more favorable investment climate by ensuring transparency and good governance.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Robert Birsel)