Inaugural United States – Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue convened in Washington

February 29, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera was in Washington DC on 25 and 26 February for the inaugural US – Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue. The Partnership Dialogue is a regular policy consultation designed to discuss and identify opportunities for cooperation across the full range of bilateral and regional issues.

It was US Secretary of State John Kerry, during his visit to Sri Lanka on 2-3 May 2015 who announced the decision to begin a Partnership Dialogue between the two countries “We’ve seen in recent decades that free countries can learn from one another, and that, to prosper, they have to be prepared to help one another. And that is why I’m pleased to announce that our governments will launch a partnership dialogue to intensify our cooperation across the board.”

Using the opportunity of his presence in Washington DC, Minister Samaraweera addressed an event co-hosted by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Heritage Foundation on 25 February on the subject ‘Advancing Reconciliation and Development in Sri Lanka’. The Minister was introduced at the event by US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Nisha Biswal. The transcript of the introductory remarks by the Assistant Secretary is available at http://www.state.gov/p/sca/rls/rmks/2016/253743.htm. The remarks by Minister Samaraweera are available at http://slembassyusa.org/embassy_press_releases/remarks-by-the-foreign-minister-at-the-u-s-institute-of-peace-advancing-reconciliation-and-development-in-sri-lanka-2/.

Describing progress in relations between the United States and Sri Lanka since the election of President Maithripala Sirisena in January 2015, Minister Samaraweera, during this address at the US Institute of Peace, said: “Although our countries have maintained cordial ties since independence, we can be proud that this cordiality has now blossomed into a very special friendship.” 

During his visit, the Minister had a series of meetings in Washington including with Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice and the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Representative Ed Royce.

The Partnership Dialogue demonstrates the consolidation of cooperation between the United States and Sri Lanka and serves to further strengthen and enhance bilateral relations, through regular and structured engagement, based on common democratic values and shared interest in working together to foster greater stability, security, prosperity, and a rules-based order for the Indo-Pacific region and around the world. Through these annual consultations, the United States plans to launch several programs to encourage investment in Sri Lanka’s economy, assist the government in its efforts to institutionalize good governance best practices across key ministries, and support the process of reconciliation and development to which the government and people of Sri Lanka are committed, with a view to achieving durable peace and socio-economic progress for all.

The Joint Statement from the U.S. Department of State and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka on the Inaugural U.S. – Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue can be accessed online at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/02/253775.htm.

The delegation of United States at the Partnership Dialogue included, among others, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Ambassador Tom Shannon, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka AtulKeshap, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski, Commander ofthe U.S. Pacific Command Admiral Harry B. Harris, National Security Council’s Senior Director for South Asia Peter Lavoy, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for South Asia Michael J. Delaney, Senior Vice President of EXIM BankRobert A. Morin, Vice President of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Beth Tritter,USAID Assistant Administrator for Asia Jonathan Stivers, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Amy Searight.

Associated with Minister Samaraweera at the Partnership Dialogue, among others, were Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam, Secretary of Defence Karunasena Hettiarachchi, Foreign Ministry’s Director General for UN and US Mahishini Colonne, Secretary General of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and Head (designate) of the Agency for Development Mangala Yapa and Director of Commerce Upekkha Samaratunga.

Embassy of Sri Lanka

Washington DC

29 February2016