Nobody expects miracles from Sri Lanka – US
August 25, 2015 01:34 pm
The Sri Lankan Government on Tuesday outlined the measures being taken to address concerns regarding alleged human rights violations including through independent domestic mechanisms, during a high-level discussion with a visiting US delegation.
“We have continued the dialog that began following the election of President Maithripala Sirisena in January,” Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.
Mr Samaraweera was briefing reporters after concluding discussions with the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal and US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski in Colombo.
“Now that we have achieved political stability through one of the most free and fair elections held in this country, I outlined measures being taken to address concerns regarding alleged human rights violations including through independent domestic mechanisms.”
The foreign minister said that the two nations agreed on prioritizing closer economic cooperation. The United States is Sri Lanka’s single largest export market with 23 per cent of the island nation’s total exports entering the US market.
“We want to enhance our trade and business relations and encourage more US investors to take advantage of the economic opportunities in Sri Lanka.”
“We look forward to regular high-level interactions at all levels, reflecting the current trajectory in the US-Sri Lanka relationship,” he said.
US Assistant Secretary Nisha Biswal stated that objective of her delegation’s visit was to reaffirm the strong US support for Sri Lanka and the reelected government’s commitments.
“We are here at this very momentous occasion to really reaffirm the strong support of the United States for Sri Lanka, for the Sri Lankan people and for the commitment of the Sri Lankan government and the Sri Lankan people towards this path of democracy, of good governance, of peace and prosperity,” she said.
Biswal, who last visited the country with US Secretary of State John Kerry in May, stated that since then they have witnessed not only an enduring commitment to democracy but also a tremendous momentum of progress towards institutions of good governance, towards combating corruption and towards promoting reconciliation.
As Secretary Kerry noted at that time, this is a long and difficult road but one that the United States is committed to walk down with the people of Sri Lanka and to provide support. “And it is in that spirit that we are here today to reaffirm the support of the United States for Sri Lanka,” she said.
Biswal said that the US looks forward to working with the President, with the Prime Minster and with the new Government in endeavors to ensure that the country is able to realize its enormous potential.
“We are incredibly proud of the journey that is being undertaken here. The story that is unfolding in this great country is one that stands as a testament to the rest of the world.”
US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski said that they have seen “steady progress” towards the forward-looking agenda that the government has set and that it has been “heartening” to people all around the world.
What is most important to us is the message that the people of Sri Lanka has sent, he said.
Malinowski said: “Twice now this year the people of Sri Lanka have told us that they support change. Twice now they have voted for the rule of law, against impunity, for reconciliation, for building, developing this country for everyone and against the politics of ethnic and religious division, against extremism on both sides.”
He stated that the people of Sri Lanka have set an important challenge for their government and for the international community.
“They have told us that the promise of this transition now needs to be fulfilled. And what we hear from the government is the recognition that the hard work must continue to meet their expectations.”
“We recognize that some of the choices ahead are going to be difficult. We recognize that this process is going to take time.”
“Nobody expects miracles. But we do see an extraordinary opportunity so long as the forward momentum is sustained,” Malinowski said.
We also see in the United States an extraordinary responsibility to support this process, he stressed.
“So long as the government of Sri Lanka keeps making courageous decisions, the US will standby its side and provide the support that is needed to keep this process going forward until Sri Lanka succeeds in every respect in terms of security, economic development, democracy and playing its rightful role as a respected leader on the world stage.”