China signs trade deals with Sri Lanka

Chandi Dharmaratne

June 12, 2010 (AFP) – Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang held talks with Sri Lanka’s president Saturday after signing six trade and economic deals, the president’s office said in a statement. Zhang had a breakfast meeting with President Mahinda Rajapakse and the two reviewed ongoing Chinese-assisted infrastructure projects.

“Today’s meeting followed the signing of agreements between China and Sri Lanka for economic and technical cooperation, highways development… IT and the development of maritime ports,” the statement said without giving details.

Zhang arrived in Colombo on Thursday with a 30-member delegation.

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.

“President Rajapakse thanked China for its continued assistance to Sri Lanka in the country’s efforts to defeat terrorism and for economic and social development b