Sri Lankan officials on Tuesday said that the crisis-hit country will temporarily suspend foreign debt payments to avoid a hard default, with its limited foreign reserves required for imports of essential items such as fuel.

"It has come to a point that making debt payments are challenging and impossible. The best action that can be taken is to restructure debt and avoid a hard default," Central Bank Governor P. Nandalal Weerasinghe told reporters.

(Reporting by Uditha Jayasinghe, Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal, editing by Ed Osmond)