PRESIDENT BUSH SAYS "SRI LANKA STANDS
OUT AS AN ISLAND OF OPTIMISM IN THIS TROUBLED WORLD"
U.S. President George W. Bush has said, "The United States
has been following the peace process in Sri Lanka with great interest"
and that "living in trying times, Sri Lanka stands out as
an island of optimism in this troubled world."
These observations were made by President Bush at the formal
credential presentation ceremony of Sri Lanka's Ambassador to
the US, Devinda R. Subasinghe, which was held in the Oval Office
of the White House, on Wednesday (26th February, 2003) afternoon.
Earlier at his meeting with the U.S.President, Ambassador Subasinghe
thanked President Bush for the steadfast support given to Sri
Lanka, as the country was striving to resolve its problems through
peaceful means. The President assured the Ambassador that the
United States will continue to support Sri Lanka as a friend.
In formal statements that were exchanged, President Bush, noting
that "sadly, both of our countries have experienced terrorism
first-hand", said "The United States appreciates Sri
Lanka's encouraging stance on the war against terror and its supportive
posture in the current crisis on Iraq." "America will
continue to count on your support in the days ahead," the
"We both know it takes courage and determination to fight
a war. As the peace process in Sri Lanka reaches a stage where
difficult issues have to be addressed and real compromises have
to be made, it becomes clear that it takes no less courage and
no less determination to pursue peace. Let me assure you that
the United States wholeheartedly supports Sri Lanka's efforts
to transform violence and bloodshed into peace." Appreciating
that Sri Lanka faces difficult challenges ahead, President Bush
said, " reconstruction and reintegration after 20 years of
civil war will not be accomplished easily or without cost. Sri
Lanka has a history of democracy and a resiliency in its economy
that will lend strength to your endeavors. In addition, Sri Lanka
has the good will of the international community. The United States
is increasing its economic assistance in support of the peace
process, and is encouraging other nations to do the same."
President Bush added that, "Sri Lanka has enormous economic
potential, which has been impeded by war. Now, with peace on the
horizon, with bold economic reforms being put in place, and with
a literate society and an educated workforce, Sri Lanka stands
on the threshold of prosperity."
In his statement, Ambassador Subasinghe observed that "the
on-going Peace Process has clearly demonstrated that despite difficulties
that may arise from time to time, the process has been placed
on an irreversible path. Sri Lanka's economic development strategy
as envisioned and articulated under the title 'Regaining Sri Lanka',
focused on the clear link between establishing a lasting peace
and creating market conditions conducive to economic growth and
entrepreneurship in order to regain and maintain economic opportunities
lost as a result of the continuing conflict." The Ambassador
noted that "the United States continues to be the major trading
partner of Sri Lanka accounting for 41% of Sri Lanka's total exports.
Foreign direct investment from the US has steadily increased with
an estimated investment of US$ 500 million. For decades Sri Lanka
has been a recipient of development assistance from the U.S. Educational
and training opportunities for Sri Lankans in the US has considerably
contributed to Sri Lanka's growth and development. In more recent
years, the two countries have also developed a beneficial relationship
in military and security cooperation."
Ambassador Subasinghe said during his tenure he would "endeavor
to build upon the vast fund of goodwill and understanding which
exists between the two countries and to further develop the longstanding
relationship, so as to promote the efforts of the Government of
Sri Lanka to regain peace and prosperity for the people of Sri
President Bush expressed the hope that "Ambassador Subasinghe's
tenure in Washington will be marked by increasing ties between
the US and Sri Lanka, in trade and commerce, as well as in human
and cultural exchanges."
Embassy of Sri Lanka
26 February 2003