AMBASSADOR GOONETILLEKE COMMENCES DUTIES
Sri Lanka’s new Ambassador to the United States of America
Bernard A. B. Goonetilleke on Tuesday April 12th presented copies
of his credentials to the US Department of State. This protocol
requirement under the United States system precedes the presentation
of credentials to US President George W. Bush at a formal credential
ceremony to be held at the White House.
Receiving the new Ambassador the State Department’s Under
Secretary for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns observed that
Ambassador Goonetilleke was no stranger to Washington having previously
served in the Sri Lanka Embassy as well as visited the capital
in many capacities, including that of Foreign Secretary. He said
the U.S. Government attached great importance to its relationship
with Sri Lanka and recalled the considerable attention paid in
recent years by former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage
to the peace process in Sri Lanka. The Under Secretary noted that
Sri Lanka had considerable international support as it continued
its quest towards peace and assured that the US government would
continue to remain engaged in this process.
Ambassador Goonetilleke said Sri Lanka was deeply appreciative
of the support given by the US towards the peace process including
serving as a co-chair of the international donor group. He acknowledged
that international engagement in the peace efforts was a vital
factor that made the LTTE re-think its strategy, which resulted
in the current ceasefire. He paid tribute to the role played by
Mr. Armitage in the process and said Sri Lanka was appreciative
of the US assurance for continued engagement.
Under Secretary Burns also informed Ambassador Goonetilleke that
the budgetary supplement for tsunami relief was likely to be passed
by the US Congress shortly. He expressed the hope that Sri Lanka
would soon be able to bring to a closure the arrangement concerning
the utilisation of tsunami aid in Sri Lanka. He said the US expected
the monies voted to be deployed for a combination of projects
across sectors and that it would be up to the respective countries
affected by the tsunami to decide the specific activities for
which they will be spent.
A career diplomat from the Sri Lanka Foreign Service, Ambassador
Goonetilleke has served as the Secretary, Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and was Sri Lanka’s Acting Permanent Representative
to the UN in New York at the time of assuming his present position.
He has also served as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to China and
the Holy See and as Permanent Representative to the United Nations
in Geneva and Vienna, as well as Ambassador to the Conference
on Disarmament. From December 2001 to May 2004 Ambassador Goonetilleke
served as the Director General/ Secretariat for Co-ordinating
the Peace Process in Colombo and was closely involved with the
negotiations with the LTTE towards restoring peace in Sri Lanka.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
12 April 2005