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Lankan PM Wickremesinghe discusses economic, political challenges with US Secretary Blinken

Sri Lanka, hit by acute shortage of food, fuel and medicines, is battling its worst economic crisis since its independence (Image courtesy: Twitter/@RW_UNP)

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who took charge two months ago and is currently battling the toughest battle of his political career, spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday to discuss the current economic and political challenges lying in front of his country.

"The Secretary affirmed the United States' commitment to the Sri Lankan people during this challenging time and the importance of supporting reforms that address the concerns of all Sri Lankans, including on democratic governance and human rights," said US State Department spokesperson Ned Price in a statement, earlier today.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, Wickremesinghe, who said that India has been the only country to send financial assistance, has urged IMF to send a team at the earliest for finalisation of a bailout package.

As talks with the International Monetary Fund  (IMF) are slated to take more time, the Lankans will have little respite from the ongoing economic mess.

Though the World Bank provided a loan of $700 million to cash strapped Sri Lanka last month, Colombo needs to finalise the IMF bailout package as soon as possible.

Despite seeking assistance from China, Beijing has not acted. 

“There is no immediate relief as the IMF team is expected to visit only during the end of the month, finalisation therefore may take some time,” an Indian entrepreneur who was earlier based in Sri Lanka told India Narrative.

The island nation, hit by acute shortage of food, fuel and medicines, is battling its worst economic crisis since its independence.

The problem has been aggravated as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa delayed in seeking assistance from the IMF even as foreign exchange reserves continued to fall.

The delay in IMF assistance and the much required debt restructuring exercise has aggravated the crisis.

Sri Lankans, home to 22 million people, are going without food and medicines.

The UN has warned that Sri Lanka could be staring at a full blown humanitarian crisis.

“We are concerned that this could develop into a full-blown humanitarian emergency, and we are taking action to address that concern,” Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency OCHA, said.

Also Read: For survival, Sri Lanka may need help before an IMF package is finalised