Statement by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal Colombo – Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
February 4, 2015
It was a privilege to visit Colombo to witness for myself the sense of excitement and optimism that the Sri Lankan people have ushered in through the historic January 8 election. In my meetings with government, civil society, private sector, and political parties, I heard a consistent message of hope about translating this promise into a brighter reality for all Sri Lankans.
I had very productive conversations with President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, Urban Development Minister Rauff Hakeem, and State Minister for Defence Ruwan Wijewardene.
In my conversation with the TNA leadership I heard their perspective for meaningful progress on reconciliation and political inclusion to ensure a peaceful, prosperous future for their constituents within Sri Lanka.
I also had a chance to meet with other political, civil society, religious, and business leaders. In all of these meetings I reiterated our desire to see the U.S.-Sri Lanka relationship grow to the benefit of both our nations.
I congratulated President Sirisena on his victory and expressed the United States’ willingness to work with the new government as it pursues a future for Sri Lanka that is peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous. Clearly, there is a lot of work to be done. The United States looks forward to partnering with the Sri Lankan people to address the challenges and help Sri Lanka realize its true potential.
Statement by Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Nisha Biswal at Sri Lanka Ministry of Foreign Affairs
February 2, 2015
Thank you Mr. Minister. I am indeed excited to be here in Sri Lanka to see for myself the energy that has the world talking about Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka’s democracy for all the right reasons.
Let me reiterate the congratulatory messages that President Obama and Secretary Kerry sent to Sri Lanka voters on the historic election and the new opportunities that have opened up.
President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe have put forth an ambitious agenda for their first 100 days, and much has been accomplished in a short time.
But, we recognize there is a lot of hard work ahead and some difficult challenges. Sri Lanka can count on the United States to be a partner and a friend in the way forward, whether it is on rebuilding the economy, preventing corruption and advancing good governance, ensuring human rights and democratic participation for all citizens.
The United States stands with Sri Lanka. Our friendship dates back generations. Since Sri Lanka’s independence the United States has provided more than $2 billion in assistance, and no country in the world buys more Sri Lankan products than the United States. We look forward to growing and deepening our partnership, to advancing trade and investment, and to expanding the bonds between our people, our governments, and our civil societies and our businesses.
In my meeting with the foreign minister this morning I conveyed on behalf my government our desire to work with him and the government of Sri Lanka to find constructive ways forward on all the areas of interest between our two countries.
And in keeping with this I know that Secretary Kerry is very much looking forward to meeting with you, Mr. Minister, during your visit to Washington next week, and to advancing and deepening the partnership between our two countries. Thank you very much for your hospitality today, and I look forward to the rest of my meetings today.