Sri Lanka to sign trade deals with China: official

June 11, 2010 (AFP) – Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang will hold talks with Sri Lanka’s president at the weekend and sign several trade and economic deals, the island’s foreign ministry said Friday. China is also building a port in the south of the island and is involved in constructing highways, power stations and petroleum storage tanks. Zhang arrived in Sri Lanka on Thursday accompanied by a 30-member delegation and was moving to strengthen bilateral cooperation during their three-day visit, the ministry said.

“Sri Lanka and China will sign a number of agreements and MoUs (memorandums of understanding) relating to the fields of information technology, maritime ports, economic and technical cooperation,” the ministry said without giving details.

Sri Lanka maintains close ties with China, a key supplier of small arms to the island’s armed forces during the height of fighting between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels.

Government forces crushed the rebels in May last year and Sri Lanka has publicly thanked China for its generous military support. Colombo has been buying naval craft, jet aircraft as well as tanks and small weapons from China.