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Jaishankar cites worry of Lanka ‘spillover’ into India, vows to help Colombo in IMF talks

Briefing reporters after all-party meeting on Sri Lanka, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar says situation in Sri Lanka is 'delicate', and it is of 'deep concern' to New Delhi.

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New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar Tuesday spoke about the “spillover” effect the crisis in Sri Lanka could have on India as he said New Delhi would extend all help during Colombo’s bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Briefing reporters after the all-party meeting on Sri Lanka, Jaishankar said that the situation in the island nation is “delicate”, and that it is of “deep concern” to New Delhi.

“The big lessons of Sri Lanka [are] to be drawn on fiscal prudence and good governance… We’ve approached it [Sri Lanka situation] in a very humanistic way as part of our neighbourhood first policy. They’re still in a very delicate situation,” the External Affairs Minister said.

Sri Lanka, he added, continues to negotiate with the IMF for a bailout package. New Delhi will give whatever support it can “in terms of working with relevant agencies”, he said

IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva Monday cited Sri Lanka as a “warning sign” for other countries with high debt levels and “limited policy space”. “Countries with high debt levels and limited policy space will face additional strains. Look no further than Sri Lanka as a warning sign,” she said.

Talking of India, Jaishankar said many MPs were concerned about the lessons of Sri Lanka. “We had anticipated that question,” he added, seeking to allay those fears.

“Here’s a very serious crisis in Sri Lanka, the situation there is unprecedented in terms of what we are seeing and the financial, social and political consequences of that,” he added. “It’s our very close neighbour.”

“So, naturally, the level of concern, as well as the worry that there would be spillover to India, is there. If there is instability in any neighbouring country or any violence, that is a matter of deep concern to us.”

He reiterated that India has given assistance worth $3.8 billion to Sri Lanka this year for purchasing food, fuel, medicines and fertilisers.

“No other country has given this level of support to Sri Lanka this year,” he said.

Also Read: Modi said Neighbourhood First. Sri Lanka crisis is India’s chance to prove it

Sri Lanka to announce new president Wednesday

Meanwhile, a day before Sri Lanka is set to announce its new president, the leader of opposition party Samagi Jana Balawegaya, Sajith Premadasa, withdrew his name from the race and urged India to support the new leader.

The Sri Lanka Parliament will be voting Wednesday, with three hopefuls — former minister Dullas Alahapperuma, acting president Ranil Wickremesinghe, and MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake — in the race.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: ‘Sinhala Only’ to remembering Tamil minority victims — How Sri Lanka changed this week


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