China today sought to firm-up its cooperation with Sri Lanka for its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), through which Beijing wants to boost trade and economic growth across Asia and beyond.
During his meeting with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana here, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China is willing to enhance cooperation with Sri Lanka within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister's visit to Beijing is the first such tour by any high-level official from Colombo after both the countries signed the USD 1.1 billion debt swap deal under which China has secured the long-term lease of the Hambantota port, raising concerns in India.
The debt swap deal was clinched by Beijing as Sri Lanka struggled to pay USD eight billion debt to China which invested in a host of projects in the Island nation.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and Sri Lanka, and the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Rubber-Rice Pact between the two countries.
Wang said that China hopes to take this opportunity to promote the traditional friendship and political mutual trust with Sri Lanka, as well as major infrastructure projects, investment and trade, maritime and people-to-people cooperation under the framework of the BRI.
He also introduced the major achievements of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), saying that China welcomes Sri Lanka to join in its opening up and development, and make joint efforts for a better future.
For his part, Marapana congratulated China on the convening of the CPC National Congress, saying that Sri Lanka expresses its gratitude for China's long-term support for its economic and social development.
Sri Lanka attaches great importance to its traditional friendship with China and looks forward to promoting cooperation with China in all fields, he said.
After the meeting, the two sides exchanged letters of approval for a mutual legal assistance treaty, state run Xinhua news agency reported.
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)