Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised his Sri Lankan counterpart Maithripala Sirisena full support in combating terrorism and boost the country’s counter-terrorism capabilities, nearly a month after the massive Easter Sunday bombings.
Expressing China’s strong condemnation of the terror attacks in Sri Lanka, Xi said China is ready to stand alongside the Sri Lankan government and people.
Xi met Sirisena on Tuesday as the Sri Lankan president visited Beijing to attend the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilisations hosted by the Chinese president.
During the meeting, Xi said China will support Sri Lanka in combating terrorism and help the country enhance its counter-terrorism capacity building to safeguard national security and stability.
China stands ready to work with Sri Lanka to constantly push forward their strategic cooperative partnership that features sincere mutual help and long-term friendship, Xi said.
He called on the two sides to maintain regular high-level communication, firmly grasp the general direction of friendly cooperation, and staunchly support each other, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.
The two countries should steadily advance the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), promote cooperation in major projects, and accelerate livelihood projects to benefit the people of Sri Lanka, Xi said.
Sri Lanka is a major beneficiary of investment projects financed by China. One such investment project was the Hambantota port, which was leased to China Merchant Port Holdings Limited for 99 years for USD 1.12 billion in 2017. The deal, critics say, is an example of Beijing’s so-called ‘debt diplomacy’.
He also called for deepening security law enforcement cooperation and jointly addressing non-traditional security threats including terrorism.
A series of coordinated bombings on Easter Sunday rocked Sri Lanka, killing over 250 people and wounding 500 others. The attacks were the deadliest on the island nation since the end of its civil war 10 years ago and targeted three churches as well as three luxury hotels in the capital, Colombo.
The Islamic State has claimed the attacks, but the Sri Lankan government has blamed local Islamist extremist group National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) for the bombings.
Thanking China for its long-term support, Sirisena said Sri Lanka always regards developing relations with China as a priority and is willing to work with China to enhance Belt and Road cooperation and deepen development and security cooperation.
An agreement was also signed promoting more closer cooperation in the defence sector of the two nations during the meeting, Sri Lanka’s Daily News reported.
The Chinese government has agreed to provide a financial grant of Rs 2.6 billion for the activities of security forces during the emergency situation in the country, News First website reported.
The Sri Lankan Presidential media division said that the Chinese President agreed to provide 100 Jeeps worth Rs 1.5 billion to the Sri Lankan Police department immediately.