U.S. will continue to fully support the Government of Sri Lanka in its endeavours to usher in Peace and Development

Meets U.S. Officials on Defense, Trade and Investment Matters

Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar who visited Washington DC from 9th -13th May 2004, received firm assurances from Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice, that the U.S. Government fully supports the new Government of Sri Lanka in its endeavors to usher in peace and development in the country.

U.S. - Sri Lanka Bilateral Discussions at the Department of State

Minister Kadirgamar, during his meeting with the Secretary of State, apprised Secretary Powell of the policies of the new Government and reiterated its desire to achieve a secure, just and lasting peace for the benefit of all communities of Sri Lanka. The Minister thanked the United States for the principled stand it had taken over the years in support of Sri Lanka’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and for playing a positive role with regard to the Sri Lanka peace process. Among the other matters discussed was the inclusion of Sri Lanka among the 16 countries eligible to receive funds from the U.S. Government under the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA). It was noted that Sri Lanka’s successful economic reforms and recently concluded free and fair election, was an example to countries that have not been able to reach such standards, which were a pre-requisite to being eligible for MCA funds. The Minister noted with appreciation the scope provided in this scheme for programmes that would help uplift the rural economy.

In a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Minister Kadirgamar focused on aspects of US support for the Sri Lanka Peace Process. Mr. Armitage, who is a Co-Chair of the Sri Lanka Donor Conference, said he would be attending the meeting to be held in Brussels in early June.

Briefing the media at the conclusion of his meetings at the State Department, Minister Kadirgamar noted that the US Government welcomed the Sri Lanka Government say “let’s finish it now, it is time for Sri Lanka to enjoy the benefits of peace.” Mr. Armitage reiterated to the media that in order for the LTTE to be removed from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations in the US, the LTTE would have to “change their behavior, not just in words, but in deed. And that is not going to happen on an afternoon,” and “ make it clear to the LTTE, in addition to the fact that if they negotiate well, they can have a meaningful part of the life of an integrous Sri Lanka, but they are going to have to give up terrorism forever as an instrument, in order to have a relationship with the United States”.

Meeting with the National Security Advisor at the White House

Meeting the National Security Advisor, Dr. Condoleezza Rice at the White House, Minister Kadirgamar apprised her of the developments since the election of the new Government and as to how the Government intended to carry forward the peace process. They discussed the status of the ongoing ceasefire agreement and prospects for the resumption of peace talks. Dr. Rice congratulated the new Government for the electoral victory in an election that was free and fair and, relatively free of violence.

Besides his key meetings at the State Department and the White House, Minister Kadirgamar also had a series of meetings with senior US Administration officials, to discuss aspects of bilateral cooperation in areas of defense, trade and investment.

Meeting at the Department of Defense

At the Pentagon meeting with Mr. Peter Rodman, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs and senior officials of the Department of Defense, the Minister discussed enhancing the ongoing defense and security relationship between the two countries. Mr. Rodman assured the Minister the U.S. Government’s commitment to strengthen the hand of a friendly country. The Foreign Minister also visited the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter, “Courageous” in Baltimore which is scheduled to be officially transferred to the Sri Lanka Navy in June 2004.

Discussions on a U.S. - Sri Lanka FTA

At the Office of the US Trade Representative, the Minister met with Ambassador Josette Sheeran Shiner, Deputy US Trade Representative, Ambassador Ashley Wills, Assistant US Trade Representative and Mr. Jon Rosenbaum, Assistant US Trade Representative. During the discussion, he briefed Ambassador Shiner of the interest of the new Government to pursue the Free Trade Agreement initiative with the US, with a view to liberalizing trade between the two countries. Responding to a comment made by Ambassador Shiner on the selection of Sri Lanka as a member of the first group of beneficiary countries under the Millennium Challenge Account, the Minister explained that the main thrust of the economic policy of the new government was to uplift the rural economy for which aid provided by the MCA could be utilized and discussed ways and means to expand and deepen US- Sri Lanka trade and investment relations.

Meeting with Members of the U.S. - Sri Lanka Working Group at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The Minister met with members of the US-Sri Lanka Working Group established at the US Chamber of Commerce to discuss current trade and investment opportunities in the country. The meeting was attended by representatives from the major US companies including Caterpillar, Kellwood, 3M, IMC Global Inc, Oracle Corporation, IBM, JA Austin Associates and Nathan Associates, as well as the USAID, Department of Commerce and the US Trade and Development Agency.

He spoke to the members of the Working Group on the country’s long tradition of democracy and universal franchise including the prevalence of a free media and freedom of expression. The Minister assured the members, of the continuity and stability in trade and economic policies and the efforts of the new government to resolve the ethnic problem through peaceful negotiations. The Minister emphasized the necessity to uplift the rural economy in Sri Lanka and encouraged US businessmen to invest and conduct business in Sri Lanka and to take advantage of the skilled workforce and conducive business environment. Referring to the proposal of a Free Trade Agreement between Sri Lanka and the US, he observed that the new government is interested in pursuing this initiative and requested the US business community to support the initiative.

Discussions with Members of the Sri Lanka Congressional Caucus of the 108th Congress

Minister Kadirgamar and Ambassador Devinda R. Subasinghe with Co Chairs of the Congressional Caucus, Representative Jerry Weller (Republican - Illinois) and Representative Frank Pallone, (Democrat – New Jersey)

At a meeting with members of the Congressional Caucus of Sri Lankans and Sri Lankan Americans of the 108th US Congress, Minister Kadirgamar discussed the views of the new government with regard to the development of trade with the US, the peace process, the rehabilitation of areas affected by the conflict and rural development including agriculture and fisheries sectors. Co Chairs of the Congressional Caucus, Representative Jerry Weller (Republican - Illinois) and Representative Frank Pallone, (Democrat – New Jersey) as well as, Representative Russ Holt (Democrat – New Jersey) and Representative Scott Garrett (Republican – New Jersey) participated in the meeting.

Meeting with Senator John McCain (R-AZ)

Minister Kadirgamar also met Senator John McCain (Republican – Arizona), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and senior staffers, and discussed bilateral trade and economic opportunities, as well as the initiatives taken by the new government to resume peace talks. The Minister expressed appreciation for the consistent position the US had taken in continuously pressurizing the LTTE to negotiate a settlement within a united Sri Lanka. The Minister re-iterated that the present government wished to pursue the initiatives to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with the US, and sought Senator McCain’s support in this regard.

Address at the Joint SAIS-Brookings Institute Forum – “Third World Democracy in Action: Sri Lanka’s Experience

During his visit, the Minister addressed a representative gathering of policy makers, academics, journalists and members of the Sri Lankan expatriate community at a joint School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University-Brookings forum held at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC, where he spoke on the theme, “Third World Democracy in Action: Sri Lanka’s Experience.” The talk was presided over by Dr. Jessica Einhorn, Dean of SAIS, Johns Hopkins University.

Presenting a substantive exposition on Sri Lanka’s experience with democracy, Minister Kadirgamar said that the Sri Lankan people have acquired tremendous maturity and made informed decisions at election time. The Foreign Minister highlighted that a noteworthy outcome of the recently held Parliamentary elections was the election of 9 monks to Parliament and the continuing ascendancy of the JVP with 39 seats in the present Parliament. Minister Kadirgamar noted, “They [JVP] have been put there by the people…They have earned their votes.” Highlighting that Governments need to pay greater heed to the basic needs of the people in formulating economic and development policy, the Foreign Minister mentioned that in Sri Lanka, where the bulk of the population is engaged in the rural economy, a priority of the present Government would be to work to uplift the rural economy by encouraging small and medium enterprises, upgrading agriculture, intermediate technologies, fisheries and such other areas.

Commenting on the peace process, the Minister mentioned that the peace process will be restarted and that it will involve “a hard long arduous negotiation.” Tough issues will be debated and “compromise is very much the mechanism” that will be employed to approach negotiations on the ISGA Proposal put forward by the LTTE. The Foreign Minister highlighted that the US approach to the Sri Lanka problem has been “constructive and helpful.” US policy is characterized by consistency and adherence to certain principles in a final resolution of the problem. These principles include adherence to the territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty of the country, pluralism, human rights and democracy.

Signing of the MoU between BCIS-SAIS to Further Collaboration on Foreign Policy Research and Academic Exchanges

A Memorandum of Understanding between the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BCIS) and the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University was signed on May 13, 2004. The MoU was signed by the Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar in his capacity as Chairman of the BCIS and by Dr. Jessica Einhorn, Dean of SAIS, Johns Hopkins University. The MoU was the outcome of the discussions on academic collaboration the Hon. Minister had initiated with the senior faculty of the SAIS during the BCIS Seminar on “The Role of the US in South Asia” held in Colombo in March 2004. The MoU will facilitate exchange of interns and fellows between BCIS and SAIS and enable developing conferences of mutual interest. It also seeks to provide an opportunity for a Sri Lanka Foreign Service Officer to pursue graduate studies at SAIS for a year.

Visit to the Washington Buddhist Vihara

This visit to Washington D.C. is the fifth visit by Minister Kadirgamar as Foreign Minister, having previously visited in 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2001. As on previous visits to Washington DC, the Minister visited the Washington Buddhist Vihara and received blessings from the Ven. Maharagama Dhammasiri Thero, Chief Priest of the Washington Buddhist Vihara. Ven. Thavalama Bothiseha Thero and Ven. Bandarawela Nanda Thero represented the International Buddhist Center in Wheaton.

Media Events

Minister Kadirgamar was interviewed by the Washington D.C. based Asian media which included special correspondents of The Hindu, AFP, The Washington Times, PTI and military historian, Rajesh Kandian. He was also interviewed by Veronica Pedrossa, Co-anchor of “World News Asia” on CNN International’s World News Today. Mr. Murray Hiebert, Bureau Chief of the Far Eastern Economic Review also interviewed the Minister.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

13 May 2004

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