Foreign Minister with Sri Lanka Congressional Caucus Co-Chair, Congressman Frank Pallone

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, on the first day of his official visit to Washington DC, on March 14, 2007, visited Capitol Hill and met with Congressional Representatives focused on South Asia, to brief them on the current situation in Sri Lanka and to express his appreciation of continued US support to Sri Lanka.

Foreign Minister with Sri Lanka Congressional Caucus Co-Chair, Congressman Jerry Weller

Among the Representatives the Minister met were the Co-Chairs of the Sri Lanka Congressional Caucus, Congressman Frank Pallone and Congressman Jerry Weller, Chairman of the Sub-Committee on the Middle East and South Asia, Congressman Gary Ackerman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama meeting with Congressman Gary Ackeman, Chairman of the US House of Representative
Sub Committee on the Middle East & South Asia. Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in the US, Bernard Goonetilleke and Director General Public Communications of the Foreign Ministry, Ravinatha Aryasinha were associated with the Minister.

The primary focus of the Minister’s message was to inform the Representatives that the government’s peace initiative was on track to seek a broad-based political consensus in the south in favor of political proposals that would lead to a sustainable peace. The Minister indicated that the political proposals would be on the table shortly. At one stage, when asked what is different in Sri Lanka’s situation today when compared to three years ago, the Minister said that three years ago, the country was not heading in any clear direction, but today, with the political consensus initiated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the dynamics have changed, enabling the country to pitch itself to a delivery mechanism for a sustainable peace.

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama meeting with Congresswoman Ileana Ros - Lehtinen, Ranking Member,
US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs

Minister Bogollagama, during his discussions, appreciated the strong bilateral relationship between Sri Lanka and the US and spoke warmly of the steadfast commitment of the US to help Sri Lanka fight terrorism. However, he pointed out that Sri Lanka needs more help from the international community to suppress the LTTE raising funds through its front organizations such as the TRO. He said that although the US banned the LTTE in 1997 as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, it is still operating in the US through its front organizations, collecting substantial funds for procuring weapons. With massive sums of money collected though extortion, narcotics and commercial activity, the LTTE has no incentive to negotiate for peace. The Minister explained that until such time that the international community pressurizes the LTTE to understand that violence will not be tolerated, there will be no prospect for a sustained peace in Sri Lanka.

Also present at the discussions were Sri Lanka Ambassador in the US, Mr. Bernard Goonetilleke and Director General Public Communications of the Foreign Ministry, Ravinatha Aryasinha.

The Minister will continue meetings on Capitol Hill on Thursday March 15, and is scheduled to address the members of the Sri Lanka Congressional Caucus.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

14 March 2007

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