The International Monetary Fund said discussions with Sri Lanka on a potential IMF loan program are at an early stage and any deal would require "adequate assurances" that the island country's debts can be put on a sustainable path, Reuters reported. In a statement emailed to Reuters, IMF Sri Lanka Mission Chief Masahiro Nozaki said that IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva discussed lending options and policy plans with a Sri Lankan delegation on Tuesday. "An IMF-supported program should be designed to resolve Sri Lanka's acute balance of payments problems and put the economy back on a sustainable growth path as early as possible," Nozaki said. The statement came after protests in response to shortages of fuel and other essentials turned deadly on Tuesday and Sri Lanka's Finance Minister formally asked the Fund for a Rapid Financing Instrument loan for countries needing urgent balance-of-payments support. Nozaki said the IMF is "very concerned about the current economic crisis in Sri Lanka and hardships suffered by the people, especially the poor and vulnerable." Read more.