Sri Lanka has invited Japan to resume investment in projects including power, roads and ports as the Japanese foreign minister wrapped up the first high-level visit to the crisis-hit country in nearly four years.

Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said his country was seeking Japanese investment in sectors such as power, infrastructure and dedicated investment zones, as well as in the green and digital economies, Reuters reported.

The South Asian island nation is working to restructure its massive debt to continue a $2.9 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund, after its worst financial crisis in more than seven decades last year triggered default and the resignation of its president.


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"We are confident that Sri Lanka's economic recovery, which has made a promising start, and future growth prospects will provide us with greater opportunities to enhance the Japan-Sri Lanka relationship," Sabry told a news conference.

He was joined by Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who is in Colombo as part of a multi-country diplomatic tour including India, South Africa, Uganda, Ethiopia and the Maldives.

"I conveyed my expectations for further progress in the debt restructuring process and stressed the importance of a transparent and comparable debt restructuring that involves all creditor countries," Hayashi said.

He did not respond publicly to Sabry's investment invitation.

Japan's historically vibrant relations with Sri Lanka cooled after the island unilaterally suspended a $2 billion light railway project in 2020.

Ties improved in recent months after President Ranil Wickremesinghe appealed to Japan to help Sri Lanka weather the crisis, caused by economic mismanagement by successive governments, deep tax cuts and then the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wickremesinghe received Cabinet approval this month to reactivate the light rail project.

Lying along key shipping routes in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has become a hot spot for influence between India and Japan on the one side and China on the other.

Japan is Sri Lanka's biggest bilateral lender after China, with about $2.7 billion in outstanding loans, according to finance ministry data.

India is the third key creditor.


Japanese FM calls on President




Minister Yoshimasa also paid a courtesy call on President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

During the meeting, they engaged in discussions concerning the relationship between Japan and Sri Lanka, with a mutual commitment to further strengthen their traditionally robust ties.

President Wickremesinghe expressed his gratitude to the Japanese government for their support in the debt restructuring process and shared details of French President Emmanuel Macron’s offer, aiming to play a pivotal role in enhancing the common platform for debt restructuring and expediting the process.

Another significant aspect of their talks revolved around key areas of cooperation, namely the Light Rail Transit (LRT), the East Terminal, the Kandy Development Plan, Central Highway, and the expansion of the Bandaranaike International Airport.

Both parties expressed the importance of expediting the implementation of these projects.



Additionally, they delved into bilateral, regional, and global issues, emphasizing their shared commitment to maintaining the region as a peaceful and stable area.

President Wickremesinghe also highlighted the investment opportunities in Sri Lanka’s high-tech industries, envisioning a transformation from a labour market-oriented economy to one that caters to cutting-edge technological advancements.

This strategic move is expected to present significant prospects for Japanese investors.


Sajith meets Japanese FM




The Japanese minister also met with opposition leader Sajith Premadasa and discussed bilateral ties, including the light rail project.


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