Chinese and US envoys meet in Colombo; pledge support to help Sri Lanka mitigate economic crisis


PTI | Colombo | Updated: 13-06-2022 17:06 IST | Created: 13-06-2022 16:51 IST
Chinese and US envoys meet in Colombo; pledge support to help Sri Lanka mitigate economic crisis
Representative Image Image Credit: Flickr
  • Country:
  • Sri Lanka

In a significant development, the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong met his US counterpart Julie Chung here on Monday and held discussions on "broad topics of mutual interest" and pledged support in helping the island nation mitigate its crippling economic crisis.

Sri Lanka is currently facing its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.

The economic crisis has prompted an acute shortage of essential items like food, medicine, cooking gas and other fuel, toilet paper, and even matches, with Sri Lankans being forced to wait in lines lasting hours outside stores to buy fuel and cooking gas.

"Ambassador Qi Zhenhong met with the US Ambassador Julie Chung at the Chinese embassy on June 13 and had a friendly discussion on broad topics of mutual interest. China and the United States could work together to help Sri Lanka overcome current difficulties," a tweet from the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka said.

Commenting on the meeting, US Ambassador Chung said discussions centered on the current political and economic situation in Sri Lanka and asserted that there was an exchange of ideas on trade investment and development.

Both envoys agreed on the need to jointly come forward in helping Sri Lanka weather through the current economic and political crisis.

The meeting assumes significance and comes at a time when Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said last week that his government could not tap on the USD 1.5 billion credit line from China and is yet to hear back from Beijing on the USD 1 billion loans.

In a media briefing last week, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that Beijing had earmarked humanitarian aid worth USD 73 million to Sri Lanka.

Last month, Samantha Power, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator, held a telephone conversation with Wickremesinghe to discuss how USAID is responding to the country's political and economic crises.

Meanwhile, India has provided a USD 55 million Line of Credit to Sri Lanka for the import of fertilisers, in a bid to help the island nation tide over its food scarcity, the Indian High Commission said last week.

Addressing the Parliament recently, Wickremesinghe said Sri Lanka will need USD 5 billion to ensure that the people's daily lives are not disrupted for the next six months.

The nearly bankrupt country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, announced in April that it is suspending nearly USD 7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about USD 25 billion due through 2026.

Sri Lanka's total foreign debt stands at USD 51 billion.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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