VISIT TO THE UNITED STATES BY THE HON. RANIL
WICKREMESINGHE, PRIME MINISTER OF SRI LANKA
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, visited the United States
from 20th July to 25th July 2002. He was accompanied by Mr. Milinda
Moragoda, Minister of Economic Reform, Science and Technology
and by senior officials.
2. The Prime Minister called on President Bush at the White House.
The Prime Minister briefed the President on the progress of the
peace process in Sri Lanka and economic developments in the country.
The President expressed his appreciation for Sri Lanka's strong
democratic tradition. He particularly welcomed the Prime Minister's
initiative, supported by the Norwegian Government, to bring the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to the negotiating table.
The President acknowledged the courage and leadership qualities
displayed by the Prime Minister in his pursuit of peace and his
efforts at economic reconstruction. The President offered American
support for these endeavours and proposed to send several US teams
to Sri Lanka to assess how best Sri Lanka and the United States
could work together in these areas. The Prime Minister thanked
the President for the support extended by the United States at
this critical time in Sri Lanka's development. They discussed
regional and international issues, in particular the global campaign
3. The Prime Minister met with Secretary of State Colin Powell
and briefed him also on the peace process stressing the importance
of the economic dimension. The Secretary of State indicated that
the United States would consider all possible assistance once
the assessment teams visited Sri Lanka and reported back to the
Administration. These teams are expected to visit Sri Lanka in
the near future. A brief review of regional and international
developments took place during the talks.
4. In his discussion with National Security Advisor Condoleezza
Rice, the Prime Minister indicated that the economic policies
of the Government were central to the success of the peace process.
She stressed the importance of ensuring the observations of human
rights in the process and welcomed the steps taken by the Sri
Lanka Government in this respect.
5. Discussions were also held with Deputy Secretary of State
Richard Armitage who indicated that he was planning to visit Sri
6. The Prime Minister met US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick,
to discuss measures to strengthen economic and commercial ties
with the United States. He was briefed on the economic reforms
being effected by the Sri Lanka Government.
7. In the presence of the Prime Minister, the US Trade Representative
and Minister Moragoda signed a Trade and Investment Framework
Agreement (TIFA). The Agreement is designed to foster a conducive
environment for international trade, investments and economic
cooperation. The Treaty provides for the establishment of a US-Sri
Lanka Joint Council on Trade and Investment. This is a consultative
mechanism to facilitate the adoption of measures for the exchange
of goods and services and to ensure favourable conditions for
the development and diversification of trade between two countries.
The Council will be responsible for monitoring bilateral trade
and investment relations and identifying opportunities to expand
8. The Prime Minister used the opportunity of his visit to Washington
to brief the House Committee on International Relations on political
and economic developments in Sri Lanka, at a meeting chaired by
Congressman Henry Hyde.
9. At a meeting chaired by Senator Richard Lugar, discussions
took place with members of the US Senate Committee on Foreign
Relations on the progress of the peace process, the recovery programme
and the economic reforms being pursued in the country.
10. Sri Lanka's performance under the Stand-by Arrangements and
possibility of gaining access to the Poverty Reduction and Growth
Facility was considered at a meeting with Mr. Horst Kohler, Managing
Director of the International Monetary Fund.
11. At the World Bank, the Prime Minister reviewed with the Bank's
President Mr. James Wolfensohn, measures of liberalization taken
by Sri Lanka in the economic field the increased role of the private
sector, the support and assistance programmes of the Bank and
support for the use of IT development.
12. At the US Treasury, the Sri Lanka delegation discussed factors
relating to Sri Lanka's development programmes. Discussions were
also held during the visit to finalise the text of the US-Sri
Lanka Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation which is
expected to be signed shortly.
13. Official level discussions were also held with the Deputy
General Counsel of the US Department of the Treasury, on further
measures for enhancing cooperation to implement United Nations
Security Council Resolution 1373 and connected resolutions in
order to counter terrorist fund raising, in the context of the
global response to terrorism.
14. During his visit, the Prime Minister made a presentation
on the theme "Challenge and Trial in Sri Lanka: Terrorism
and Peace" at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for
Scholars. (The full text of the speech is available). The Prime
Minister also briefed the media at the National Press Club in
15. A Roundtable Interaction at the Heritage Foundation was held
with a selected group of professionals, Congressional staffers
16. Following discussions with Mr Gaddi Vasquez, Director, National
Peace Corps, it was decided that an assessment team from the Peace
Corps would be visiting Sri Lanka with a view to recommencing
its programmes in the country.
17. The Prime Minister also held meetings with Senator John Mc
Cain and Senator Hilary Clinton.
18. During the Prime Ministerial visit, official level discussions
were also held at the US Justice Department, on the convening
of early negotiations on a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT),
to enhance the existing levels of judicial cooperation between
the two countries. The conclusion of such a treaty is viewed as
an important step in strengthening national mechanisms to prosecute
and punish serious international crimes.
19. The question of consulting with each other on human rights
issues was also discussed with State Department officials.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
25 July 2002