Hailing the role of New Delhi in Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring, Japanese Ambassador to India Hiroshi Suzuki said that India’s issuance of financing assurances to the island nation at the time of its economic crisis was instrumental in accelerating the process of its debt restructuring.

Ambassador Suzuki also said that Japan appreciates India’s engagement and forward-looking approach on the issue.

He made these remarks at the INDIA-SRI LANKA-JAPAN Trilateral Cooperation Event co-hosted by NatStrat – a not-for-profit centre for research on strategic and security issues, Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), Pathfinder Foundation and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Addressing the event, the Japanese envoy also highlighted the role of India, Japan and Sri Lanka in the Indo-Pacific region.

“When Prime Minister Kishida visited Delhi and gave an address on the new plan of the free and open Indo-Pacific, he highlighted South Asia as one of the major pillars, one of the priority regions in his new plan. And Japan attaches primary importance to its relations with Sri Lanka and India as indispensable partners in order to realize the vision,” said Ambassador Suzuki.

Commenting on Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring process, the Japanese envoy spoke about how Development Finance has been a major challenge for the Indo-Pacific region and Japan attaches importance to transparent and fair developmental assistance.

“In the Indo-Pacific region, there is a huge demand for development finance. Japan has been taking the position which attaches the highest priority to transparent and fair developmental assistance, and development finance, which abides by international rules and standards. More concretely, Japan has been pushing forward what is called quality infrastructure principles, which were indeed agreed upon by all the leaders of the G20 Presidents, and Prime Ministers when they gathered for the Osaka G20 Summit back in 2019.”

“This high-quality infrastructure principle attaches importance to four major aspects. First is transparency, second is openness, third is economic viability and fourth, but not in least, debt sustainability. So, these are the four key items that Japan feels are important in providing both infrastructure and viable development assistance,” he added.

The Japanese envoy stated that in terms of debt relief, Japan attaches importance to international rules and status, adding how important it is to treat all creditors the same way.

“We place the highest priority on transparent and equitable debt restructuring where all creditor entities, creditors countries, and organizations participate. An equitable treatment among all creditors. If one country is favoured over another, then the entire debt restructuring will fall apart. Sri Lankan President has made it public that Sri Lankan govt will never treat any country more favourably than others and Japan highly appreciates the public commitment that President made that crystal clear,” he said.

Milinda Moragoda, the Sri Lanka High Commissioner also hailed the trilateral cooperation and said that given the amount of investment required, it hence becomes an important aspect.

“This I would see as the next stage of our President’s Ranil Wickremesinghe visit to India. As you know the joint economic vision statement that was given between Prime Minister Modi and Wickremesinghe and outlined three key areas. One was ‘connectivity’, the second was ‘economic integration’ and the third was investment. In that context, given the amount of investments that are required, trilateral cooperation becomes also an important aspect of it. So, in that context, Japan, India and Sri Lanka are working together. Japan and Sri Lanka have had a long association and so is India and Sri Lanka,” said the Sri Lankan high commissioner.

“Today I think it symbolises this idea of Japan India and Sri Lanka coming together and to look at possible cooperation in the investments space,” High Commissioner Moragoda added. When asked about the Chinese Submarine and its presence in the Indian Ocean region, the Sri Lankan envoy said the incident was some time ago and the President’s visit focussed on economic integration.

“The submarine incident was some time ago. It was not a recent issue and at the moment, we are looking forward because the visit by the President was focused on economic cooperation. India supported Sri Lanka when we had a lot of difficulties and now we are looking at the economic recovery phase and how India and Sri Lanka can come together in that context,” said High Commissioner Moragoda.

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