US SENATOR LUGAR SAYS SRI LANKA HAS THE FULL SUPPORT
OF THE US CONGRESS
AS IT SEEKS TO MOVE THE PEACE PROCESS FORWARD
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera who is currently
visiting Washington for a meeting with US Secretary of State Dr.
Condoleezza Rice on Thursday, today met the Chairman of the US
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, senior US officials of the
US Trade Representative’s Office and the Millennium Challenge
Corporation. 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.
This morning the Minister visited Capitol Hill,
where he met with the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations
Committee Senator Richard Lugar. The Minister briefed Senator
Lugar on the current developments in Sri Lanka and of President
Mahinda Rajapaksa’s new approach towards the peace process.
Senator Lugar who thanked the Minister for a comprehensive briefing
of the new government’s policies, assured him that Sri Lanka
has the full support of the US Congress as it seeks to move the
peace process forward.
The Foreign Minister also met the Deputy US Trade
Representative Ambassador Karan K. Bhatia at the office of the
United States Trade Representative (USTR) and had constructive
bilateral discussions on further strengthening bi-lateral trade
and investment relations between the two countries. Briefing the
Deputy USTR on the trade and economic policies of the new government,
Minister Samaraweera reaffirmed the new government’s commitment
to economic reform to uplift the rural economy and alleviate poverty.
Minister Samaraweera and Ambassador Bhatia agreed that the TIFA
process should be continued in order to expand economic ties between
the two countries. In response to a proposal made by Minister
Samaraweera that the 5th Meeting of the joint council under the
TIFA be held early this year, the USTR agreed to convene the meeting
in the second quarter of 2006 in Sri Lanka. The Minister also
invited Ambassador Bhatia to visit Sri Lanka, to which he expressed
his keen interest.
Meeting Ambassador John J. Danilovich, Chief
Executive Officer (CEO) of the Millennium Challenge Corporation
(MCC), Minister Samaraweera expressed appreciation for Sri Lanka’s
continued selection for US Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)
assistance for financial years 2004, 2005 and 2006. He also pointed
out that the principles of the MCA are consistent with the “Mahinda
Chinthanaya”, which has given priority to poverty alleviation
and rural development. The Minister also handed over a letter
from the Sri Lanka government appointing Mr. Ajith N. Cabral,
Secretary, Ministry of Plan Implementation and Economic Advisor
to the President, as the MCC counterpart in Sri Lanka. Ambassador
Danilovich expressed satisfaction regarding the institutional
arrangements in place for steering the Sri Lanka MCA compact of
proposals towards successful negotiations for funding later this
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, Director-General of SCOPP Dr. John Gooneratne, and
senior officials of the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington were associated
with the Foreign Minister at these meetings.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
04 January 2006