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 President said.

"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 Lanka."

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
Washington DC

26 February 2003


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