Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra with Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) Secretary Ajay Seth and Chief Economic Advisor V Anantha Nageswaran meets Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in Colombo, Sri Lanka (Photo: PTI)


Colombo : India’s top diplomat held talks with the President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka on Thursday, as India signaled its willingness to go beyond the $4 billion in loans, swaps and aid that it has already made in its cash- Provided to a neighbor in distress.

Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis in seven decades, with severe foreign exchange shortages hampering imports of essential goods, including food, fuel and medicines.

The island nation, off the tip of southeast India, needs about $5 billion over the next six months to meet basic necessities for its 22 million people, who are battling long queues, worsening shortages and power cuts.

Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra held talks with officials of the Finance Ministry along with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the commercial capital Colombo, officials said.

Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Twitter: “India stands ready to help Sri Lanka accelerate economic recovery through investment, connectivity and strengthening economic ties.”

An official of the Prime Minister’s Office said that the Indian team held separate meetings with Wickremesinghe, the Governor of the Central Bank and officials of the Ministry of Finance.

“The delegation will also discuss the country’s economic situation and short- and long-term assistance needs with senior officials,” Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

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Wickremesinghe told parliament this week that India has been a major source of foreign aid to Sri Lanka this year, having supplied more than $4 billion.

Officials said neighbors are also in talks for additional aid, including a $500 million line of credit for fuel and help with imports of fertilizer and rice, as Sri Lanka attempts to address the food crisis.

Wickremesinghe said Sri Lanka planned to hold a donor conference with China, India and Japan, as it continues talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout package of around $3 billion.

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