Japan promises PM infrastructure, maritime aid

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged aid to Sri Lanka on Tuesday in a meeting with his counterpart, Ranil Wickremsinghe, and reiterated a promise to help Sri Lanka bolster its maritime security and to provide patrol ships.

Sri Lanka is moving away from the former government’s pro-China stance and has suspended most Chinese-backed infrastructure projects.

It is also trying to put more emphasis on ties with Japan, which dovetails with Abe’s hope to counter a rising China.

Sri Lankan government officials said in July they were seeking sources of cheaper funding to replace about 70 percent of the more than $5 billion in debt from Chinese lenders with loans at cheaper interest and longer durations.

Abe pledged about 45.4 billion yen (248.58 million pounds) in infrastructure aid, while Wickremsinghe said his government would create a more favourable investment climate by ensuring transparency and good governance.