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Sri Lankan PM to visit China next week

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe will visit China next week as the two countries seek to mend ties in the backdrop of differences over Chinese investments including the controversial USD 1.5 billion Harbour Port City project made during the former regime.

Wickremesinghe will pay an official visit to China from April 6 to 9 at the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters here.

Chinese leaders will meet and hold talks with Wickremasinghe and exchange opinions on bilateral relations and issues of common concern, he said.

"We commend the Sri Lankan government's positive policies towards China and are ready to jointly consolidate the traditional friendship, and deepen pragmatic cooperation through this visit, pushing the China-Sri Lanka strategic cooperative partnership to new heights," Hong said.

China and Sri Lanka ties which were close during former President Mahinda Rajapaksa tenure with Beijing committing about USD 7 billion in the island nation in a host of projects including Hambanthota port and Colombo Port city project.

The port city was stalled until recently by President Maithripala Sirisena government which came to power defeating Rajapaksa in the Presidential election last year.

Recent reports from Colombo said the Lankan government has finally cleared the project after amending the agreement reached during Rajapaksa regime, specially the clause relating to the ownership of the land by Chinese firms.

While Sirisena visited China last year after travelling to India, this will be Wickramasinghe's fist visit to the Communist nation.

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First Published: Thu, March 31 2016. 20:49 IST