March 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Washington Professional Group meets with ambassador  at official Sri Lankan residence reception

Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya briefs members of the Washington Intergovernmental Professional Group on reconciliation, development and economic opportunities in Sri Lanka during a reception at the Sri Lankan residence, Washington, D.C.

Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya discusses Sri Lanka with two members of the Washington Intergovernmental Professional Group during a March 10 reception.

Washington Intergovernmental Professional Group members enjoy Sri Lankan food at a reception at the Sri Lankan residence.

A group of Washington professionals met with  Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya at a March 10 reception to gain a better understanding of current developments in Sri Lanka.

The Washington Intergovernmental Professional Group, whose members meet with embassies and U.S. government officials, joined the ambassador to discuss Sri Lanka’s economy, trade opportunities and relations with the U.S.

Ambassador Wickramasuriya, in opening remarks, briefed the group on Sri Lanka’s economic growth, tourism and reconciliation.

“Of course the greatest achievement for Sri Lanka,” the ambassador said, “is lasting peace, the ultimate human right.”

“I invite all of you to visit Sri Lanka. Talk to the people, see how they feel about peace. I know that if you go there you will experience what I am saying about Sri Lanka, and you can come back here and tell your friends the actual story of Sri Lanka.”

The Washington Intergovernmental Professional Group is comprised of attorneys, consultants and former and present government officials who work with the U.S. government and American companies on overseas missions. Some of those attending the Sri Lankan reception had just returned from Sri Lanka, while others had traveled there previously.

Nelson Garcia, chairman of the Washington Intergovernmental  group and a former Congressional staff member who now works in the private sector on transportation issues, noted Sri Lanka’s dramatic development since the successful end of its long conflict against terrorism in May 2009.

“Sri Lanka is certainly a different country today,” Garcia said. “We want to thank Ambassador Wickramasuriya for hosting us here this evening to learn more about what has been happening in his wonderful country.”

Members of the group showed a particular interest in tourism, and how Sri Lanka is positioning itself for the expected growth in the number of foreign visitors. The ambassador discussed plans to increase hotel capacity and Sri Lanka’s work to increase the efficiency of its infrastructure, including airports, railways, highways and ports.

“We are building a second international airport in the South,” the ambassador told the group. “This will make it easier for tourists to arrive. We are also concentrating on the North to help those affected by the conflict. We are bringing electricity to the whole island for the first time ever.”