HON. HUSSEIN A. BHAILA, DEPUTY MINISTER
OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS MEETS MR. RICHARD BOUCHER, ASSISTANT SECRETARY
OF STATE FOR SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA, AT THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
WASHINGTON DC ON DECEMBER 19, 2008
Hon. Hussein A. Bhaila, Deputy Minister of Foreign
Affairs met Mr. Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State
for South and Central Asia, at the Department of State Washington
D.C. on December 19, 2008. He was accompanied by Ambassador Jaliya
Amongst the matters discussed at the meeting were the remarkable
progress in ongoing military operations to clear parts of the
Northern Province of LTTE presence. The Deputy Minister brought
to the attention of the U.S that the LTTE is holding civilians
as a human shield and preventing them from coming to Vavuniya,
where the Government has made arrangements to receive them. The
Government, despite prevailing adverse weather conditions and
obstacles placed by LTTE, has ensured that there is an uninterrupted
supply of food and basic necessities to the civilians in the un-cleared
areas of the Wanni, who are caught up in the current conflict.
It was urged that the international community can help the civilians
by exerting pressure on the LTTE. The Deputy Minister informed
that progress towards capturing Kilinochchi is slow but steady
as all possible measures are being taken to ensure zero civilian
casualties. After successful completion of the ongoing military
operation it was informed that the people of the Northern Province
will be given the democratic right to choose their own political
representation, as was the case when the Eastern Province was
cleared of the LTTE presence.
The Deputy Minister updated the U.S authorities on the Reawakening
of the Eastern Province . It was stressed that the security forces
and other agencies of the Government have worked hard to secure
the area, to restore normalcy and to resettle people, who had
been temporarily displaced, in their homes. Arrangements for improvement
of law and order in the East are also underway. New police stations
have been established while existing stations are being strengthened
to provide a better service to the community. Tamil speaking police
officers are being recruited to serve the province. Another important
recent development was the signing of an agreement between UNICEF
and the TMVP. The implications of this Agreement were also discussed.
The Deputy Minister thanked the U.S for significant assistance
received for development projects in the Eastern Province .
The Deputy Minister took the opportunity to thank Mr. Boucher
for his personal interest in Sri Lanka and the support he has
extended to Sri Lanka .
The Deputy Minister also briefed a number of senior officials
of the World Bank on important developments taking place in Sri
Lanka due to the proactive policies of the Government of Sri Lanka.
It was noted by the Deputy Minister that a priority for the Government
is rebuilding the Eastern Province – which is potentially
a model of post-conflict development - and where all three communities
are equally represented. It was stressed that after the Eastern
Province was cleared of the LTTE presence, elections were held
in order to re-establish democratic institutions, to further promote
development in the Province. In regard to on-going projects in
the Eastern Province , the World Bank officials noted that they
are working on ensuring that existing projects are made more responsive.
The Deputy Minister informed the World Bank officials that in
the very near future, the Northern Province too will be cleared
of the LTTE presence and the Bank will be able to work closely
with the Government of Sri Lanka to bring much needed development
projects to the people of that Province which have been denied
development due to LTTE actions. Bringing development to this
Province will be an important strike against terrorism.
The senior officials briefed were as follows: Mr. Junaid Ahmad,
Sector Manager (Urban/Water); Mr. Salman Zaheer, Sector Manager
(Energy) ;Mr. Adolfo Brizzi, Sector Manager (Agriculture &
Rural) and Ludmilla Butenko who will be based in Colombo as Operations
Adviser. A significant part of the discussion focused on the Government
of Sri Lanka’s ongoing investments in infrastructure development
and energy. A briefing was given about the $75 million micro-hydro
and rural electrification project undertaken by the World Bank
in Sri Lanka, which is private sector driven. The possibilities
for exploitation of alternative sources of energy was also discussed.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
02 January 2009