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* Japan considers providing patrol ships to Sri Lanka
Sun, Aug 24, 2014, 11:50 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Aug 24, Colombo: The Japanese government is considering providing patrol ships to Sri Lanka to help strengthen its maritime surveillance capabilities, Kyodo News Service citing a Japanese government source said Sunday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to convey the plan to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa when he visits the country in early September, the source said.

Tokyo expects the move to help improve sea lane security in the Indian Ocean where tankers transporting oil from the Middle East to Japan travel, according to the source.

It also comes at a time when China is giving support to Sri Lanka and other countries in South Asia in an apparent bid to expand its reach into the Indian Ocean.

Australia recently gifted two Bay Class patrol boats to help Sri Lanka combat human smuggling.

Tokyo will decide how many ships to provide after Abe's visit, the source said. Officials from the two countries will hold talks to decide whether Japan will build new ships for Sri Lanka or provide Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels already in use.

The Japanese government is considering giving loans to Sri Lanka for the ship purchase, the source said.

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