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Sri Lankan Prime Minister Gunawardena arrives on six-day visit to China

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NEW DELHI: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena arrived in Beijing on Monday for a six-day official visit, which will be the first visit by a Sri Lankan leader to Beijing after Colombo put a moratorium on recurring visits by Chinese research ships to Hambantota port, reportedly due to India’s security concerns.
During the visit, he will hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang on ways to further deepen bilateral ties.
Sri Lanka recently announced that it would permit foreign research vessels to dock at its ports for replenishments, despite a one-year ban on such activities.
Concerns have been raised globally over China’s infrastructure investments in Sri Lanka, particularly after the 99-year lease of the Hambantota port in a debt-for-equity swap.
Gunawardena’s visit also coincides with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reaching a staff-level agreement with Sri Lanka, paving the way for the country to access 337 million US dollars from the 3 billion US dollar bailout package approved in 2023.
Following a default on over USD 51 billion in foreign loans last year, India extended approximately 4 billion US dollars in aid to assist Sri Lanka in recovering from its economic challenges.
However, official data from Sri Lanka shows that China is the largest creditor with 43%, followed by Japan at 23% and India at 15%.
( with input from agencies)

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