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 a severe economic crisis. President Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament on Thursday that initial talks will continue after China’s Communist Party congress, which begins on Oct. 16. Wickremesinghe said Japanese officials had agreed to help 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 its completion hinges on assurances from Sri Lanka’s creditors on debt restructuring.