AMBASSADOR OUTLINES SRI LANKA'S PLAN
FOR LASTING PEACE
Ambassador Wickramasuriya addresses the gathering
of young Asian Leaders. Also in the picture Dr. Walter Anderson
South Asia Studies Program at John Hopkins University’s
School for Advanced International Studies
and Ms Jasmeet Ahuja, a professional staff member of the House
Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Sri Lanka will ensure peace after 25 years of
conflict by holding local elections that will give the Tamil population
a voice in its future, Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Sri Lanka’s
Ambassador to the U.S., told a group of young Asian leaders here
“We have to bring displaced Sri Lankans
into the political process,” Ambassador Wickramasuriya said.
“That’s something they have not experienced for a
long time. We need to do this on the local level -- in town and
provincial councils. And we need to do it nationally.
“In other words, we need elections.”
The Ambassador appeared as a guest speaker before
the Washington Leadership Program, a group of young Asian-American
leaders. Ambassador Wickramasuriya appeared with Dr. Walter Anderson
of the South Asia Studies Program at John Hopkins University’s
School for Advanced International Studies.
The July 15 forum was moderated by Jasmeet Ahuja,
a professional staff member of the House Committee on Foreign
Affairs, where her primary responsibility is foreign policy in
South Asia. The talk was organized by Harin Contractor, a senior
consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton of McLean, Va., and held at
the Washington law offices of O’Melveny & Myers.
While the meeting was intended to consider events
in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, most of the questions
and answers centered on Sri Lanka’s May 18 conclusion of
its 25-year-long war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam,
and future political and economic prospects.
“Right now in Sri Lanka we have begun to
rebuild the damage done by our conflict,” Ambassador Wickramasuriya
said. “Construction is already underway on roads and water
systems. But we have to rebuild more than highways and homes.
We have to rebuild trust.”
Ambassador Wickramasuriya explained how Sri Lanka
won its conflict with the LTTE, as well as the prospects for lasting
peace in Sri Lanka. He outlined the planned elections in the north
and the scheduled return of the 280,000 displaced people now living
in government welfare centers.
A member of the audience asked Ambassador Wickramasuriya
if the U.S. can learn about fighting terrorists from Sri Lanka?
Ambassador replied that Sri Lanka took up former
President George Bush’s refrain that “a terrorist
is a terrorist,” and sought to end the conflict after years
of failed negotiations.
“The United States was talking about a
war against terrorists,” Wickramasuriya said. “We
fought that war.”
Embassy of Sri Lanka
16 July 2009