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China said today it was willing to work with Sri Lanka to steadily push forward the construction of the Colombo Port City, the Hambantota Port, and logistics and industrial parks in accordance with market and business principles. China's offer came as Sri Lanka is negotiating for a USD 1.1-billion debt swap with Beijing to repay the USD 1.4 billion Chinese loan for the Hambantota port, which was found to be unviable. The offer was made by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang when his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe, who attended the ambitious Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on May 14-15, met him here today.
The B&R initiative aims to link China to markets in Europe and Africa through Asia. Li urged Sri Lanka to create a good legal, media, policy and security environment for implementing the projects. Earlier, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for more efforts to advance the strategic partnership between China and Sri Lanka during a meeting with Wickremesinghe. China values relations with Sri Lanka and supports the efforts made by Colombo to safeguard national unity, peace and national reconciliation, and promote economic development, Xi said. China is ready to work with Sri Lanka to move forward the friendship between the two countries and lift their strategic partnership of cooperation to a higher level, Xi said. The Chinese president urged the two countries to strengthen top-level design and policy communication for the development of bilateral ties, and coordinate positions on global issues of common interests. The two countries should also promote infrastructure construction, maritime and aviation cooperation to realise infrastructure connectivity, Xi said. China and Sri Lanka should take the celebration of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties as an opportunity to build people-to-people bonds in youth, think-tanks, colleges and universities, media, religion, tourism and local affairs, Xi said. Wickremesinghe congratulated China for the successful Belt and Road Forum, which had gathered many countries and international financial institutions, and achieved fruitful results, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Sri Lanka is committed to consolidating the traditional friendship with China and deepening bilateral cooperation in a variety of areas, Wickremesinghe said. The Sri Lankan prime minister said his country welcomes China's increased participation in Sri Lanka's industrialisation and infrastructure construction. Sri Lanka is ready to work with China on the Hambantota Port and Colombo Port City projects, Wickremesinghe said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)