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COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s prime minister offered talks on Wednesday with protesters calling for the government to step down over its handing of an economic crisis as the opposition threatened to bring a no-confidence motion against it in parliament.

The island nation of 22 million people is in the throes of its worst financial crisis since independence in 1948, with a foreign currency shortage stalling imports of fuel and medicines and bringing hours of power cuts a day.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets, many staging a sit-in in the commercial capital, Colombo, to denounce the government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his elder brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“The prime minister is ready to start talks with the protesters at Galle Face Green,” his office said in a statement, referring to a protest site that has become the focus of discontent.

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