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China gives Sri Lanka a two-year moratorium

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China yesterday responded to Sri Lanka’s long-standing request for a commitment on rescheduling its debts as a prelude to a bailout by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with an offer for a two-year moratorium, the media has reported.

In a letter to President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as Finance Minister, the Exim Bank of China responsible for much of the loans given to Sri Lanka said the two-year moratorium would be a short-term suspension of the debts owed to China while asking all parties, i.e. Sri Lanka’s creditors to get together to work out medium-term and long-term commitments.

It is learned that the letter also extends China’s support to the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility (EFF) and requests the IMF to go ahead with the discussions on debt restructuring that will lead to an IMF program.

The letter giving China’s assurances arrived on the eve of a Paris Club meeting of Sri Lanka’s creditors scheduled for next week where Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring measures are to be discussed as a prelude to a US dollars 2.9 million IMF program to bail out Sri Lanka from its current economic crisis.

Sri Lanka’s efforts to get China’s support along with India’s support for rescheduling its loans were being negotiated for several months.

It comes shortly after India announced that it had written to the IMF extending its assurances in writing that it would support an IMF program for an Extended Fund Facility for Sri Lanka. China, India and Japan are Sri Lanka’s largest bilateral creditors.

Soon after the Indian assurances were given to the IMF, its External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar called upon other countries to be “proactive” in supporting Sri Lanka. Dr. Jaishankar who was in Sri Lanka on a 24-hour visit on Thursday and Friday said India was willing to support Sri Lanka “fully” in its efforts to come out of its current financial crisis.

China’s International Department Vice Minister Chen Zhou who was in Sri Lanka earlier in the week, also announced that China was about to announce some “good news” on Sri Lanka’s request to consider rescheduling its debts.

The letter from the Chinese Exim (Export-Import) Bank, the state-run institution responsible for foreign loans, arrived in Colombo on the eve of the Chinese lunar New Year which begins today.

It was not immediately known if the Chinese assurances contained in the letter would meet the requirements of the Paris Club and the IMF.

Participation at the Paris Club by India and China was also not immediately known, but the Sunday Times learns that the Sri Lankan Finance Ministry was confident it was sufficient consent for the IMF to go ahead with discussions on its debt restructuring schedule leading to its bailout program. for Sri Lanka.

(Sunday Times)

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Fire breaks out in workers’ living quarters near Colombo Port

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A fire has reportedly broken out in the living quarters of highway access road workers near the Colombo Port.

The Colombo Fire Brigade said it has dispatched four fire trucks to assist in extinguishing the flames.

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President Wickremesinghe meets Elon Musk to discuss starlink implementation in Sri Lanka

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe has met with billionaire and investor Elon Musk on the sidelines of the 10th World Water Forum High-Level Meeting being held in Indonesia.

During the meeting, Wickremesinghe and Musk discussed the implementation of ‘Starlink’ in Sri Lanka.

It was emphasized that Sri Lanka is committed to expediting the application process to connect the country to the global Starlink network, according to the President’s Media Division (PMD).

Minister Jeevan Thondaman, accompanying the President on his two-day visit to Indonesia, tweeted: “President and Elon discussed Sri Lanka’s recovery, economic potential, and new opportunities for investment. Great to have two visionary leaders come together for Sri Lanka.”

Elon Musk arrived in Indonesia’s resort island of Bali on Sunday to launch Starlink satellite internet service in the world’s largest archipelago nation.

The billionaire head of Tesla and SpaceX, and owner of social platform X, arrived by private jet on the idyllic “island of the gods,” renowned for its tropical beaches, terraced rice paddies, mystical temples, and colorful spiritual offerings.

Musk is slated to launch the service alongside Indonesian President Joko Widodo in a ceremony later Sunday at a public health clinic in Denpasar, the provincial capital of Bali. 

Musk will also sign an agreement to enhance connectivity in the country’s health and education sectors.

During his first in-person visit to Bali, Musk is also scheduled to participate in the 10th World Water Forum, which seeks to address global water and sanitation challenges.

–With agencies inputs

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Senior diplomat to oversee Sri Lankan embassy in Russia

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It is reported that the government has planned to send a senior officer of the foreign service to the Sri Lankan embassy in Russia until a new ambassador is appointed due to the lack of an ambassador.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Taraka Balasuriya has told the media that the absence of an ambassador is just a gap in the work procedure, and based on the current situation in Russia, a senior official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be directed to supervise its affairs.

He emphasized that a retired foreign service senior is being sent and the lack of an ambassador is not a major problem.

The Minister further stated that there is already a senior Foreign Service officer there, and given the urgent need, a very senior Foreign Service officer is being sent not because the officer currently in Russia is inadequate.

Mr. Balasuriya has stressed that this is being done to strengthen the operation and that the work will be done according to the normal protocol.

However, even though an ambassador has been appointed to Russia, Mr. Balasuriya has made arrangements not to reveal who it is to the media.

The former Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the Russian Federation, Prof. Janitha A. Liyanage, was given three extensions, and she ended her service at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Moscow on April 29.

At present, Counsellor Ruvini K. Munidasa serves as the Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy.

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