India’s assistance to its debt-ridden neighbour Sri Lanka could be extended beyond the estimated $4 billion in aid it has already provided, New Delhi officials said.
Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, accompanied by Ministry of Finance officials, held talks with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the commercial capital of Colombo, officials said.
“[We] underlined [that] India stands ready to help … in quick economic recovery through promoting investments, connectivity and strengthening economic linkages,” Indian government spokesman Arindam Bagchi wrote on Twitter.
The Indian team held a separate meeting with Wickremesinghe, the central bank and finance ministry officials, an official from the Sri Lankan prime minister’s office said.
“The delegation will also hold discussions with senior officials on the economic situation in the country and the short-term and long-term assistance requirements,” the island nation’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
India has been the principal source of foreign assistance this year, supplying more than $4 billion, Wickremesinghe told parliament this week.
The neighbours are also in talks for additional support including a $500 million credit line for fuel and help with importing fertiliser and rice as Sri Lanka attempts to stave off a food crisis, officials said.
Despite the crisis, Sri Lankan shares closed higher for a third straight session on Thursday, supported by gains in industrial and financial stocks. Expolanka Holdings and Browns Investment were the top gainers, climbing 9% and 6.3%, respectively.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell