Sri Lanka will focus on port projects with India during the Presidential visit

Sri Lanka is likely to discuss power, energy and port projects during a presidential visit to New Delhi next week, the foreign minister said Monday, as India seeks to push ahead with stalled initiatives with its troubled neighbor.

India’s support was crucial for Sri Lanka over the past year after the country nearly ran out of dollars and fell into a financial crisis that made it difficult to finance essential imports such as fuel and medicines.

India provided around $4 billion in quick relief assistance between January and July 2022, including lines of credit, a currency exchange agreement and deferred import payments, and sent a warship carrying essential medicines for the island’s 22 million residents.

Sri Lanka will now focus on grid connectivity between the two countries, port development and renewable energy projects, particularly in the northern part of the island, when President Ranil Wickremesinghe visits India for two days from July 21, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry has told reporters.

“Development of the Trincomalee energy center, port development, possible refinery – basically we are discussing with India,” said Sabry, referring to a strategically important natural harbor on the northeast coast of Sri Lanka.

“We are now continually reviewing progress and finding ways to accelerate it where possible.”

The two countries want to develop and develop the port of Trincomalee into a major port.

Regional rivals India and China have long struggled for influence in Sri Lanka, strategically located in the Indian Ocean.

Sabry said both China Harbor Corp and Sinopec are interested in investing in Sri Lanka. Sinopec has already been nominated to build a $4 billion refinery near the port of Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is in talks with both countries to renegotiate its debt after defaulting on payments last May.

Sabry said talks are progressing well.

“The idea is to get all those things done by September, officially come out of bankruptcy and start making repayments,” he said.

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