Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, who met US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice today (Thursday 5 January), briefed her on developments in Sri Lanka and conveyed to her the Sri Lanka government’s firm commitment to seek a negotiated political settlement to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. Minister Samaraweera’s visit is the first to the U.S. by a member of the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, since its assumption of office in November 2005.

Minister Samaraweera told Secretary Rice that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had been able to secure the support of 28 political parties in the recent election and was currently holding consultations with other opposition political parties including the UNP, to evolve a southern consensus on solving the conflict. Since his election a little over 6 weeks ago, President Rajapaksa had repeatedly invited the LTTE to resume negotiations with a view to strengthen the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement and in arriving at a negotiated political settlement.

Minister Samaraweera, who noted that Sri Lanka was Asia’s oldest democracy, thanked the US Government for the pro-active role it had played to support the peace process. He stressed that the solution the Government of Sri Lanka envisaged is one that is based on democracy, human rights and pluralism.

Earlier the Minister also held meetings with Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns and Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Christina Rocca, who were also associated with Dr. Rice at the meeting with the Foreign Minister. Minister Samaraweera said that he looks forward to meeting Under Secretary Burns, when he next visits the region.

Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs H.M.G.S. Palihakkara, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the US Bernard A.B. Goonetilleke, Senior Advisor to the President Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, Secretary-General of SCOPP Dr. John Goonaratna, and the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington Ambassador Ravinatha P. Aryasinha, were associated with the Foreign Minister at these meetings.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

05 January 2006


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