Foreign Minister Samaraweera concludes successful visit to the US capital
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera visited Washington DC from 11-12 February. The visit which was his first to the US capital since assuming office as the Minister of Foreign Affairs followed the visit of US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal to Colombo on 2-3 February and coincided with the completion of 30 days in office of the new Government in Sri Lanka.
During the two day visit, the Minister held a range of meetings including with Secretary of State John F. Kerry, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, co-chairs of the Sri Lanka Caucus in the US Congress, Chris Van Hollen and Robert Aderholt, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Ed Royce and Ranking Member of the Committee, Congressman Eliot Engel. The visit also included speaking engagements followed by interactive sessions at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on ‘Sri Lanka after the Presidential Election’ and at the National Press Club on ‘Sri Lanka – US Relations’.
Welcoming Minister Samaraweera to Washington DC, Secretary Kerry hailed the Presidential election on 8 January which has set Sri Lanka in a new direction. Expressing support for a Sri Lanka that is peaceful, democratic, prosperous, inclusive and unified and the Government’s 100-day programme, Secretary Kerry stressed the commitment of the US Government to the people of Sri Lanka and the ongoing efforts of the Government to strengthen democratic institutions in the country. The discussions on a wide range of issues included measures to strengthen US-Sri Lanka bilateral relations and future steps to be taken to achieve envisaged objectives. Inviting Secretary Kerry to visit Sri Lanka at an appropriate time, Minister Samaraweera stressed that he looks forward to working closely with the Secretary of State and other important partners in the United States to enhance relations between the two countries to a state of excellence.
Addressing a full house at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the oldest international affairs think-tank in the US, after warm welcome remarks by its newly appointed President, the former US Deputy Secretary of State Ambassador William J. Burns, the Minister spoke at length on the post-Presidential election developments in the country including steps being taken for reconciliation, strengthening democracy and good governance and also set out foreign policy objectives of the Government.
Speaking on Sri Lanka-US Relations at the National Press Club, the Minister observed that shared values and commitment to democratic ideals gives much scope for the two countries to work together and that the Sri Lanka – US partnership must take into account the island’s strategic geographic location.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
15 February 2015