Hambantota port project has vast potential, not "debt trap": Sri Lankan president

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said he was convinced that the China-funded Hambantota port project would have vast potential for generating income and creating jobs for the local people instead of being a "debt trap," local media quoting a statement from the President's Office reported here Saturday.

The statement said that Rajapaksa, in his meeting with visiting senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi in the capital Colombo on Friday, said that many geo-political analysis have interpreted this project as a "debt trap" but he wanted to prove that it was not the case, and that this large-scale project would help improve the living standards of the local people.

China has contributed to a number of large-scale infrastructure development projects in Sri Lanka, including the Hambantota port, Colombo Port City, and Southern Expressway, said the president.

He noted that building a port in Hambantota, which is located in the southern area of Sri Lanka, was an idea of Sri Lanka and not of China.

The president expressed satisfaction over the current Sri Lanka-China relations, saying China has been a long-standing friend.

The president, who has visited China many times and witnessed China's fast development, especially in rural areas, said his target was to bring about the similar development to Sri Lanka, especially in the rural areas, and improve living conditions of the people in the South Asian country, especially that of the poor.

"I look forward to seeing visible progress in the Port City project over the next four years," the president said. 

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