SRI LANKAN MINISTER OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS URGES A “BROADER, DEEPER RELATIONSHIP” BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND
During Meetings with Obama Administration Officials and Members of Congress, Minister Emphasizes the “Sea Change”
in Sri Lanka since Victory over Terrorism
External Affairs Minister Professor G.L. Peiris explains Sri Lankan’s development and reconciliation efforts during a talk at the Heritage Foundation, an influential conservative think-tank in Washington, D.C.
External Affairs Minister Professor Peiris delivering remarks to academics at The Heritage Foundation.
Minister of External Affairs Professor G.L. Peiris discusses Sri Lankan development and reconciliation with Congressman Gary Ackerman, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, Committee on Foreign Affairs. Also in the picture Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States Jaliya Wickramasuriya.
Minister of External Affairs Professor G.L. Peiris (L) and Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States Jaliya Wickramasuriya (R) with Congressman Gary Ackerman.
Sri Lanka’s Minister of External Affairs, Professor G.L. Peiris, continued his U.S. tour to inform Congress and U.S. government officials about Sri Lanka’s economic development and reconciliation process. This is the second day in the Minister’s four-day trip to the Washington, D.C. His tour, starting in New York on Monday May 24, 2010, will culminate in an official meeting at the United States Department of State to be hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Minister Peiris began Tuesday delivering remarks to academics at The Heritage Foundation, an influential conservative think-tank in Washington, D.C. The Minister’s remarks noted the “sea change” evident in Sri Lanka since the victory over terrorism a year ago. “Sri Lanka is a land of great potential” he said. The Minister also discussed Sri Lanka’s stunning economic achievements and a new outlook for tourism to the country in the coming months. The Minister said; “It is time for the U.S. to take a fresh look at Sri Lanka.”
The Minister called for deeper ties between Sri Lanka and the United States. We are in “unreserved agreement” with last year’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee report calling for a “multi-faceted relationship” that embraces trade, security and economic ties, not just human rights. On human rights, the Minister emphasized the importance of Sri Lanka’s efforts at reconciliation. “We understand that military victory was not the end but the beginning.”
The event was moderated by Walter Lohman, head of the Heritage Asian Study program and key attendees included Ambassador Terry Miller, Director of Heritage Foundation’s Center for International Trade and Economics along with Fatema Sumar, foreign policy aide to Senator John Kerry and Nilmini Rubin, foreign policy aide to Senator Richard Lugar.
Following the Heritage Foundation event, Minister Peiris met with Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy. Flournoy acts as the premier advisor to the Secretary of Defense Robert gates and the Deputy Secretary of Defense and handles a wide range of national security and defense policies.
Minister Peiris continued his day with meeting Congressman Gary Ackerman, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, Committee on Foreign Affairs. Later the Minister met with National Security Adviser General James L. Jones who serves as the chief adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama on national security issues.
Al Jazeera’s Riz Khan interviewed Minister Peiris in the afternoon. During the in-depth interview, Minister Peiris spoke about the defeat of LTTE and the great impact it has had on Sri Lanka. He said the end of the LTTE meant “freedom from unmitigated oppression” for all Sri Lankans. When pressed about the current state of the Tamil Community after the defeat of the LTTE, Minister Peiris remarked “The vast majority of Tamil’s didn’t want to live under the yoke of the LTTE.” He continued, “They are happy about the freedom that has now come to them.”
Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States Jaliya Wickramasuriya held a dinner in honor of Minister Peiris at his residence.
The Minister will continue his meetings with U.S. officials and U.S. media.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
27 May 2010