COLOMBO (Kyodo) — Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and his Sri Lankan counterpart Tilak Marapana agreed Friday in Colombo to strengthen bilateral maritime, security and defense cooperation.
Sri Lanka lies near sea lanes in the Indian Ocean that are crucial to Japan’s economy.
According to a Japanese government official, during the meeting Kono offered Japanese support for the development of the port of Colombo, stressing that Japan places great importance on its relations with Sri Lanka.
Kono explained the “free and open Indo-Pacific” strategy advocated by Japan and asked for Sri Lanka’s understanding over the importance of maintaining a maritime order based on the rule of law.
Sri Lanka is a destination for Chinese investment in line with Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” regional infrastructure megaproject. Japan has signaled it could cooperate with the initiative, while stressing the importance of the projects being transparent and fair.
The foreign ministers also confirmed that they will stringently implement U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions against North Korea.
Kono also held meetings Friday with President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.