By KRISHAN FRANCIS
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s government has started debt restructuring discussions with China, an important step toward finalizing an International Monetary Fund rescue of the island nation from its worst economic crisis. President Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament on Thursday that the initial talks will continue after China’s Communist Party congress meeting that begins Oct. 16. Wickremesinghe also said Japanese authorities agreed to mediate the talks with China. Sri Lanka is nearly bankrupt and has suspended repaying its foreign debt. It has a preliminary agreement with the IMF for a $2.9 billion rescue package, but finalization hinges on assurances from Sri Lanka’s creditors on debt restructuring.