Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday said his government will back the bids of India and Japan for permanent member status at the UN Security Council.
President Wickremesinghe is currently in Japan to attend the state funeral of the former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.
During a meeting with Japanese foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi on Tuesday, Wickremesinghe “appreciated the support extended by Japan (to Sri Lanka) on the international stage and expressed the government’s willingness to support both Japan’s and India’s campaign to become permanent members of the UN Security Council”, the President’s office said in a press release.
India has been at the forefront of the years-long efforts to reform the Security Council saying it rightly deserves a place as a permanent member of the UN body, which in its current form does not represent the geo-political realities of the 21st century.
At present, the UNSC comprises five permanent members and 10 non-permanent member countries which are elected for a two-year term by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
The five permanent members are Russia, the UK, China, France and the US and these countries can veto any substantive resolution. There has been growing demand to increase the number of permanent members to reflect the contemporary global reality.
India is currently halfway through the second year of its two-year term as an elected non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
India’s tenure at the Council will end in December when the country will also preside as President of the powerful UN organ for the month.
On Saturday, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, addressing the General Debate of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, emphasised that India is prepared to take up greater responsibilities.
The call for reformed multilateralism – with reforms of the Security Council at its core – enjoys considerable support among UN members, he said.
“It does so because of the widespread recognition that the current architecture is anachronistic and ineffective. It is also perceived as deeply unfair, denying entire continents and regions a voice in a forum that deliberates their future,” Jaishankar said.
Meanwhile, President Wickremesinghe’s office said Japan has expressed willingness to take a lead role in Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring, which is vital for the island’s bid to gain a bailout facility from the International Monetary Fund.
The IMF had expressed readiness to enter a staff-level agreement with Sri Lanka conditional to debt restructuring.
In mid-April, Sri Lanka declared its international debt default due to the forex crisis. The country owes USD 51 billion in foreign debt, of which USD 28 billion must be paid by 2027.
The IMF does not lend to countries whose debt is deemed unsustainable, requiring Sri Lanka to undertake an upfront comprehensive debt treatment.
Both India and Japan are major creditors of Sri Lanka, besides China and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Sri Lanka is banking on Japan to organise a debt restructuring conference on its behalf.
Wickremesinghe has also indicated that he was keen to revive halted Japanese projects in Sri Lanka, officials said.