Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the U.S. Devinda R. Subasinghe called upon all Sri Lankans resident in the US and US citizens with a special interest in Sri Lanka, to increase their activities and to leverage their capability towards servicing the Sri Lanka-US relationship in all its dimensions. He said the Embassy proposed to open an "ideas line" to hear their views and will also commence a program to provide internships to qualified Sri Lankan students at the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington and the Consul General's Office in Los Angeles.

The Ambassador made these observations when he addressed the 55th Independence Anniversary Celebrations of Sri Lanka, held on Sunday 9th February at the Amphitheater of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington D.C. The ceremony organized by the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington D.C., was attended by members of the Sri Lankan community of the Greater Washington area, friends of Sri Lanka which included several former U.S. Ambassadors to Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan Officials visiting the US including Major General Parami Kulatunga and Secretary, Ministry of Urban Public Utilities Ariyaratna Hewage.

The two hour ceremony, commenced with the unfurling of the Sri Lanka flag to the strains of the national anthem sung by children of the Embassy staff. The lighting of the traditional oil lamp followed, amidst the singing of Jayamangala Gatha by the Sri Lanka Youth Dance Troupe.

This was followed by multi-religious observances and prayers. The Buddhist observances were led by the Ven. M. Dharmasiri Thera, Chief Incumbant of the Washington Buddhist Vihara and the Ven. K. Uparathana Thera, Chief Incumbant of the Wheaton International Buddhist Center. Hindu prayers were recited by Rev. S Viswesvaiam, Muslim prayers by Mr. Naseer Azeez and Christian prayers by Dr. Greg Fernandopulle.

Later the Independence Day messages by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga , Prime Minister Ranil Wicremasinghe and Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando were read by officers of the Embassy.

In his address, Ambassador Devinda R. Subasinghe outlined the objectives towards which he with his staff would direct their energies. First, to deepen and broaden the Sri Lanka-US relationship in all its manifestations- diplomatic, political, security, economic and arts and culture. Second, to elevate economic cooperation between the two countries and secure greater trade and capital market access for Sri Lanka in the US and a higher level of US investment in Sri Lanka. Third, to increase access to World Bank and IMF technical expertise and financial resources. Fourth, affording the highest quality of consular and information services and in adding value to the assets of the Embassy. In an open forum that followed, the Ambassador responded to questions and suggestions made by the gathering.

The event concluded with a cultural program, which featured dances - 'Kethaka Mahima' and ' Suragana Ladun', performed by the Junior and Senior dance troupes of the Ranga Kala Kavaya respectively, choreographed and led by Devika Wimalakantha and a dance featuring the ten divine incarnations of Lord Krishna, performed by Meera Arumuganathan.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

09 February 2003


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