Jun 01, 2013 brahmand.com
BEIJING (PTI): Firming up its ties with Sri Lanka, China has granted fresh development loan worth USD 2.2 billion for infrastructure projects and agreed to provide defence technology as well as training to the island nation's army.
Both sides agreed to further deepen defence cooperation and maintain exchanges between the two defence ministries and would continue to carry out cooperating in defence technology, personal training and other fields, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told media briefing here on Friday.
He was replying to questions on the just concluded visit by Sri Lankan President Mahenda Rajapaksa during which both the nations signed a defence agreement besides a host of deals to beef up infrastructure projects in the country, deepening China's foothold there.
Hong did not disclose the details of the agreements including the one related to development of Colombo port and read out some of the highlights from joint statement issued by both the countries.
According to Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G L Peiris, China has offered USD 2.2 billion worth of new loans.
The countries agreed on USD 1.5 billion investment of private sector in the northern express highway linking Kandy in the central part of Sri Lanka to Jaffna in the north, he earlier told the media here.
The two sides agreed on the extension of a railway, the southern highway and the development of the port of Colombo, Peiris said.
This is in addition to the construction of Hambantota Port with the multibillion dollar assistance of China.
According to reports in Sri Lankan media, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told Rjapaksa during their meeting that China will explore the possibility of establishing an industrial zone in Hambantota.
China will support Sri Lanka to develop capabilities in satellite communication, space technology and maritime industries, he said.
Hong said China has become major development partner of Sri Lanka and has played very important role in recent years.
Both sides agreed that terrorism, separatism and extremism have posed severe threat to regional security and would carry out practical cooperation to jointly tackle the three forces, he said.
"In a nutshell President Rajapaksa's visit has elevated our bilateral strategic partnership. This kind of partnership will promote bilateral political mutual trust and common development and will maintain regional peace and stability," Hong said.
"This kind of cooperation is not targeting against a third country," he said when asked about concerns in India that the deepening cooperation between the two countries was aimed at containing India.
Hong also recalled Li's recent "successful" visits to India and Pakistan which showed that China is actively involved in friendly cooperation with the South Asian countries.
"This cooperation will give rigorous boost to regional peace stability and development and will bring benefit to people of China and South Asian countries," he said.