During a recent visit to the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, on an invitation to deliver a speech on "The Current Trends in Sri Lanka", Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the US Devinda R Subasinghe addressed a wide gathering of academics, students and members of the Sri Lankan Community. In the context of Sri Lanka's increasing importance in South Asia and increasing US interest in Sri Lanka, Ambassador Subasinghe proposed that Sri Lankan studies become an integral part of the University curriculum in the Asia Studies program at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. Ambassador Subasinghe referred to the commitment of the University's Asian studies program to foster a better understanding of the East, South and Southeast Asia and the Pacific and also expressed the wish to facilitate educational, social and cultural exchanges between the students of Sri Lanka and the University of Pittsburgh.

In his speech, Ambassador Subasinghe also summed up the positive trends in Sri Lanka in the political, economic, legal, democratic and tourism realms. Observing that the economy of Sri Lanka had been ravaged by two decades of ethnic conflict, Ambassador Subasinghe referred to the country's commitment to achieve a lasting peace through political dialogue and economic reconstruction and stated that together with the assistance of the governments of Norway, United States, India and Japan the country had achieved "a major breakthrough in securing the peace" by embarking on peace talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Referring to the positive relationship between the United States and Sri Lanka, Ambassador Subasinghe commented on the recently concluded Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) signed in July 2002 and the important economic, trade and investment ties between the two countries. He observed that the United States is Sri Lanka's biggest trade partner and comprises one of Sri Lanka's main export markets with exports in the year 2002 amounting to US $1,810 million and imports from the United States totaling US $ 171.9 million. He also commented on the economic reform and economic development efforts to move the economy to a path of sustained high growth and the Sri Lanka government's "Regaining Sri Lanka" program of economic recovery and development that includes increasing economic growth and reducing conflict-related rural poverty, strengthening rural infrastructure and improving quality education and health services, in order to make the country "a transport, logistics and financial hub for the Indian Sub-continent".

The Ambassador met Dr. James V. Maher, Provost, Senior Vice Chancellor and Dr. Vijai Singh, Vice Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh as well as Dr Christina Gabriel, Vice Provost of the Carnegie Mellon University where the possibility of conducting programs in Sri Lanka on education and Information Communication Technology as well as technical collaboration on the e-Sri Lanka program with the Carnegie Mellon University were discussed. Ambassador Subasinghe and Mrs Subasinghe also participated in the annual Sinhala Tamil New Year dinner hosted by the Sri Lankan community at the University of Pittsburgh.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

08 May 2003


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