Blazing a trail as the first Sri Lankan head of state to visit the state of California, President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived in Los Angeles on September 27, 2007, on a brief visit specially to meet with Sri Lankan expatriates in the state where the most number of Sri Lankans in the US live. The President’s main focus was to convey his appreciation of the generosity of Sri Lankan expatriates to Sri Lanka and to encourage them in their selfless efforts of helping Sri Lanka on the path to peace and economic development.

The highlight of the President’s visit was his meeting with Sri Lankan expatriates in Los Angeles, at the California State University in Long Beach, on September 28. In a colourful event at an auditorium at the university, the President gave a moving address to packed audiences and presented a detailed account of the current situation in Sri Lanka. Amidst an atmosphere of patriotic fervor, the President invited all Sri Lankans living in the US, be they Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim or other, to be Ambassadors of Sri Lanka and to keep the American people and the policy makers informed of the real situation, whenever the opportunity arose. Observing that a campaign of vilification of the country is being carried out by interested parties for political gain and to prevent development activities, he emphasized the need to keep the international community regularly & accurately briefed on the ground realities of Sri Lanka’s conflict.

President Rajapaksa also visited two of the main Sri Lankan Buddhist temples in Los Angeles, the Lankarama Buddhist Temple and the Dharmavijaya Buddhist Vihara, where he spoke with and encouraged Sri Lankan expatriates further, during religious ceremonies organized by the respective chief priests, Ven. Aluthnuwara Sumanatissa Thera and Ven. Dr. Walpola Piyananda Nayake Thera.

The President’s focus on positively engaging the international community in Sri Lanka’s situation was apparent during his address to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, where he spoke to a significant gathering of American business leaders, other professionals and academics. Fresh from his address at the UN General Assembly, the President was inspired to carry his message further. He said, "Earlier this week, I addressed the UN General Assembly on a few key issues: among them Sri Lanka’s position on global terrorism. Dr. Martin Luther King often said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere"; likewise, we firmly believe that terrorism anywhere is terrorism everywhere." The President emphasized that Sri Lanka’s goal "remains a negotiated and honourable end" to the conflict and "to restore democracy and the rule of law to all the people in the country." The main thrust of the President’s message was that despite fighting terrorism, the government had not neglected economic development, and now, with the weakening of the terrorist threat in the country, Sri Lanka’s doors are open to foreign investment, the time was ripe for foreign investors to benefit from the lucrative investment opportunities in Sri Lanka, and in the process, help Sri Lanka achieve the heights of economic development it envisages.

During his brief visit, President Rajapaksa was also invited for meetings with the Mayor of the Los Angeles City, Mr. Antonio Villaraigosa, and with the Acting Chair of the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, Ms. Yvonne Burke, with whom he discussed issues of economic and social importance to Sri Lanka, paving the way for greater cooperation in the future, in various areas, between Sri Lanka and California.


Home | Sri Lanka-US Relations | Trade | Investment | Travel | Consular | Press Releases |
Statements | Features | Reports & Publications | Archive | Contact I Ideas Line