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
Washington DC

12 April 2005


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