Japanese minister woos Sri Lanka

Interest in Sri Lanka’s ports is increasing as other countries bid to stop Chinese expansion.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, led the way with a late August visit and stopped at the controversial Port of Hambantota, leased to the Chinese for 99 years.

“As a defence minister, I think that it is very important to build a relationship with Sri Lanka, which is a particularly important location in the 'free and open' Indo-Pacific Strategy," Mr Onodera said in a statement.

Japanese ships regularly enter the ports of Trincomalee and Hambantota, Mr Onodera added.

The Minister discussed the issue with India’s Defence Minister, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, and the two agreed to more co-operation.

“We’re also excited to try out the air logistics hub concept which utilizes Sri Lanka’s strategic location in the Indian Ocean,” said Robert Hilton, chargé d’affaires ad interim of the United States Embassy in Colombo in Sri Lanka.

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