Crisis-hit Sri Lanka president to visit Japan, Manila from Sept 25-30 amid debt restructuring talks | Sinhala News

Sri lanka News – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has chosen to travel Japan as his first foreign visit since becoming the president before visiting Manila to take part in the South Asia Finance Ministers’ Retreat hosted by the Asian Development Bank focusing the island nation’s debt restructuring and economic crisis, sources told EconomyNext.

Wickremesinghe during the visit will formally ask Japan to invite Sri Lanka’s main bilateral creditors, including China and India, to discuss on external debt restructuring as it seeks to ease its worst economic crisis, the sources said.

“Debt restructuring will be the top in his agenda and he is expected to meet Japanese Prime Minister in Tokyo. At the ADB event, the president will present the latest update on the ongoing crisis and the planned reforms to come out of the crisis,” one source at the Presidential Secretariat told EconomyNext.

“He will leave on September 25 and return on September 30.”

He is expected to participate on the ADB event later on September 28 during the multilateral financial institution’s 55th annual meeting.

Unlike his predecessors, President Wickremesinghe has chosen to visit Japan in his first foreign traveling since he became the president on July 20 through a parliament vote. His predecessors, both Gotabaya Rajapaksa (2019-2022) and Maithripala Sirisena (2016-2022), visited India in their first foreign visit.

The president’s visit also comes days after financial advisory group Lazard started talks with India, China and Japan on restructuring Sri Lanka’s debt.

Sri Lanka has sought an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout and the global lender has agreed for a $2.9 billion, 48-month package, pending the IMF executive board approval depending on Sri Lanka’s reforms and agreement with all of its external creditors.

Political analysts and sources close to him have said Wickremesinghe has been navigating the foreign policy carefully to ensure not to be caught in India-China geopolitics.
“He sees Japan as a long term development partner for Sri Lanka,” a government official who is closely working with Wickremesinghe on the reforms and debt restructuring said asking not to be named.

“We are on our knees after the economic crisis and we may be compelled to give away some demands by China and India, if they want to use our crisis for their own benefit. Japan could be a better choice to facilitate the debt restructuring talks.” (Colombo/Sept15/2022)

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