Crisis-hit Sri Lanka to ask Japan to open talks with top creditors

Nikkei -- Aug 19
Sri Lanka will ask Japan to invite the Indian Ocean island's main creditor nations, including China and India, to talks on bilateral debt restructuring as the country seeks a way out of its worst economic crisis in decades, its president said on Thursday.

"Someone needs to call in, invite the main creditor nations. We will ask Japan to do it," President Ranil Wickremesinghe told Reuters in an interview, adding that he would travel to Tokyo next month to meet Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people off India's southern tip, is facing its most severe financial crisis since independence from Britain in 1948, resulting from the combined impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic mismanagement.

Left with scant foreign exchange reserves, stalling imports of essentials including fuel and medicines, ordinary Sri Lankans have been battling crippling shortages for months amid skyrocketing inflation and a devalued currency.

Public anger stoked unprecedented mass protests, with thousands of people storming the colonial-era presidential residence in Sri Lanka's commercial capital Colombo in early July, forcing then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa into hiding.

Protesters occupied the residence for days, some of them sleeping in the president's bedroom and others frolicking in a swimming pool surrounded by manicured gardens. ...continue reading


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