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Sri Lanka key partner in free and open Indo-Pacific: Japan's Yoshimasa

Sri Lanka was hit by an unprecedented financial crisis in 2022, the worst since its independence from Britain in 1948, due to a severe paucity of foreign exchange reserves

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Press Trust of India Colombo

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Sri Lanka with its location at a strategic juncture along the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean is an important partner in realising a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa said here on Saturday.
Yoshimasa arrived here late on Friday on a two-day visit to the island nation after meetings in New Delhi. He held talks with President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Saturday, amidst China's aggressive investment projects in the cash-strapped nation.
At today's (Saturday's) meeting, I explained about the new plan for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced in March this year," he said.
Yoshimasa was referring to the Japanese prime minister's statement that Japan attaches importance to cooperation with the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to be chaired by Sri Lanka in October this year.
The US, India and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's rising military manoeuvring in the resource-rich region.
China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea. China also has territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea.
Yoshimasa wished for further progress in Sri Lanka's debt restructuring process and stressed the importance of a transparent and comparable debt restructuring that involves all creditor countries.
Sri Lanka was hit by an unprecedented financial crisis in 2022, the worst since its independence from Britain in 1948, due to a severe paucity of foreign exchange reserves.
I welcomed Sri Lanka's efforts under the IMF agreement, including its anti-corruption measures and transparency in the policy-making process. I also commended Sri Lanka's efforts on national reconciliation, and expressed Japan's intention to support Sri Lanka's efforts, the minister said.
Analysts have described the visit of the Japanese foreign minister as a demonstration of Wickremesinghe's efforts to repair Sri Lanka's soured relationship with Japan.
The Sri Lankan president visited Japan twice since being elected in July 2022.
His predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa's action to halt a Japanese light railway project caused Japan to claim damages from Sri Lanka.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Jul 29 2023 | 4:36 PM IST

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