Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the U.S. Devinda R. Subasinghe called upon all Sri Lankans resident in the US and US citizens with a special interest in Sri Lanka, to increase their activities and to leverage their capability towards servicing the Sri Lanka-US relationship in all its dimensions. He said the Embassy proposed to open an "ideas line" to hear their views and will also commence a program to provide internships to qualified Sri Lankan students at the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington and the Consul General's Office in Los Angeles.
The Ambassador made these observations when he addressed the 55th Independence Anniversary Celebrations of Sri Lanka, held on Sunday 9th February at the Amphitheater of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington D.C. The ceremony organized by the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington D.C., was attended by members of the Sri Lankan community of the Greater Washington area, friends of Sri Lanka which included several former U.S. Ambassadors to Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan Officials visiting the US including Major General Parami Kulatunga and Secretary, Ministry of Urban Public Utilities Ariyaratna Hewage.
The two hour ceremony, commenced with the unfurling of the Sri Lanka flag to the strains of the national anthem sung by children of the Embassy staff. The lighting of the traditional oil lamp followed, amidst the singing of Jayamangala Gatha by the Sri Lanka Youth Dance Troupe.
This was followed by multi-religious observances and prayers. The Buddhist observances were led by the Ven. M. Dharmasiri Thera, Chief Incumbant of the Washington Buddhist Vihara and the Ven. K. Uparathana Thera, Chief Incumbant of the Wheaton International Buddhist Center. Hindu prayers were recited by Rev. S Viswesvaiam, Muslim prayers by Mr. Naseer Azeez and Christian prayers by Dr. Greg Fernandopulle.
Later the Independence Day messages by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga , Prime Minister Ranil Wicremasinghe and Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando were read by officers of the Embassy.
In his address, Ambassador Devinda R. Subasinghe outlined the objectives towards which he with his staff would direct their energies. First, to deepen and broaden the Sri Lanka-US relationship in all its manifestations- diplomatic, political, security, economic and arts and culture. Second, to elevate economic cooperation between the two countries and secure greater trade and capital market access for Sri Lanka in the US and a higher level of US investment in Sri Lanka. Third, to increase access to World Bank and IMF technical expertise and financial resources. Fourth, affording the highest quality of consular and information services and in adding value to the assets of the Embassy. In an open forum that followed, the Ambassador responded to questions and suggestions made by the gathering.
The event concluded with a cultural program, which featured dances - 'Kethaka Mahima' and ' Suragana Ladun', performed by the Junior and Senior dance troupes of the Ranga Kala Kavaya respectively, choreographed and led by Devika Wimalakantha and a dance featuring the ten divine incarnations of Lord Krishna, performed by Meera Arumuganathan.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
09 February 2003
Together with my colleagues at the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington D.C., I extend a warm welcome to all of you who have gathered here today to celebrate the 55th Anniversary of Independence of Sri Lanka. I do so with a deep sense of humility, having been associated with you as a member of the fast expanding Sri Lankan community in the United States over the past 25 years, during which I have studied and worked in the U.S.
Today we gather at a time of great expectation, both in developments in Sri Lanka as well as the trajectory of Sri Lanka-U.S. Relations. In Sri Lanka, there is a concerted effort to transfer the solution of the ethnic conflict and related issues that have plagued our country ever since independence, from the battlefield to the negotiating table. The on-going Peace Process has clearly demonstrated, that despite difficulties that may arise from time to time, the process has been placed on an irreversible path. Further, the overall economic development strategy as envisioned and articulated under the title 'Regaining Sri Lanka' focuses on the clear link between establishing a lasting peace and creating market conditions conducive to economic growth and entrepreneurship in order to regain and maintain economic opportunities lost as a result of continuing conflict. Needless to say, many challenges continue to lie ahead. How Sri Lanka negotiates these issues will be closely followed by the international community, who believe Sri Lanka provides a potential model in conflict resolution.
As for Sri Lanka - U.S. relations, the U.S continues to be the major trading partner of Sri Lanka accounting for 41% of Sri Lanka's total exports. Foreign direct investment from America has steadily increased and ninety American companies operate in Sri Lanka with an estimated investment of US$ 500 million. For decades Sri Lanka has been a recipient of development assistance from the United States. Educational and training opportunities for Sri Lankans in the United States has contributed significantly to our growth and development. In more recent years, our two countries have also developed a beneficial relationship in military and security cooperation. Particularly since the official visit to Washington D.C by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in July 2002, bi-lateral relations between Sri Lanka and the United States has become multi-faceted. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Deputy Trade Representative Jon M. Huntsman have undertaken visits to Sri Lanka, and the impact of these engagements with Sri Lanka has been reflected in both U.S. support to Sri Lanka's peace process, as well as in the augmentation of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) process aimed at liberalizing trade and investment between our two countries.
During my tenure of office it will be my endeavor to build upon the vast fund of goodwill and understanding which exists between our two countries. In doing so my colleagues and I at the Embassy look forward to working with the Sri Lankan community resident in the U.S.- cutting across ethnic, religious and professional lines. We do so conscious of the magnitude of the task. In reaching out through the length and breadth of this vast country, the relatively small but influential Sri Lankan expatriate community that has distinguished themselves in so many fields, remains our greatest asset.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
04 February 2003
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has said, the United States Government was closely following developments in Sri Lanka and was committed to support Sri Lanka not only by word, but also in terms of substance.
Secretary Powell made this observation when he welcomed Sri Lanka’s new Ambassador to the United States of America Devinda R. Subasinghe, who called on the US Secretary of State on Friday, 17th January, to present copies of his credentials. He was accompanied by Ambassador J.D.A. Wijewardena, Charge d’Affaires, a.i. This protocol requirement under the United States system precedes his formal presentation of credentials to US President George W. Bush at a formal credential ceremony to be held at the White House, at a date to be determined by the White House. With the presentation of copies of credentials, the Ambassador becomes the functional head of mission.
Welcoming Ambassador Subasinghe, Secretary Powell noted that the new Ambassador was no stranger to Washington D.C. and the United States. He wished him every success in this new appointment and observed that his familiarity with this country will help further strengthen bi-lateral relations.
Ambassador Subasinghe responding said he was honored to have the opportunity to be representing Sri Lanka in a country where he had studied and worked for over 25 years, and pledged that he would do his utmost to further a more enduring relationship between Sri Lanka and the United States. The Ambassador conveyed to Secretary Powell, the appreciation of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe for the role played by the United States in support of the Peace Process and economic development in Sri Lanka. He also extended an invitation from the Prime Minister to Secretary Powell, to visit Sri Lanka. Secretary Powell recalled his short but pleasant visit to the island in 1983 with then Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger and Richard Armitage, the current Deputy Secretary of State. Secretary Powell said he was looking forward to visiting Sri Lanka once again.
An investment banker by profession, Ambassador Subasinghe, prior to this appointment was Vice President of the Florida based Ramond James Financial Inc. He holds a MA in International Economics from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University and has previously served with the World Bank Group including the International Finance Corporation.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
17 January 2003
The dawn of the New Year is an occasion to take stock of the developments in the past year and reflect on the tasks that lie ahead. The progress we have achieved so far in the peace process gives us ample grounds for looking at the future with renewed optimism and hope.
The Ceasefire has been consolidated, avoiding further blood shed and loss of life; urgent humanitarian needs of the people affected by the conflict are being addressed, resettlement is progressing and Sri Lankan economy is showing unmistakable signs of revival. The contentious issues that have come up in this long and difficult road, have been resolved through mutual dialogue and understanding. The international community has been consistent in its support for the peace process.
It is my fervent hope that the New Year will see the further consolidation of the cease fire and progress towards a firm foundation for a durable peace based on mutually acceptable political and constitutional structures within a united Sri Lanka. It is the bounden duty of all Sri Lankans to work towards this end.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
31 December 2002
The Air Transport Agreement between Sri Lanka and the United States of America signed by Hon. Tyronne Fernando, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Hon. Colin Powell, Secretary of State on behalf of their respective Governments on 11th June 2002, in Washington DC, entered into force on 18th Nov. 2002, upon completion of all necessary internal procedures by both countries. It is the first Air Transport Agreement to be concluded by Sri Lanka with the United States of America since independence.
This 'Open Skies' Agreement provides the legal framework for unrestricted capacity and frequencies by the airlines of both countries including liberalized code sharing and charter arrangements.
The Agreement covers both passenger and cargo services and is expected to bring substantial economic benefits to air travellers, the business community and Sri Lankan expatriates in the United States of America.
The Agreement also provides for cooperation in air traffic security and safety between the two countries.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
18 November 2002
US Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage has said the United States Government was pleased with the progress that had been made at the recently concluded round of talks between the Sri Lanka Government and the LTTE and has reiterated strong US support for the peace process.
This assurance was given by Mr. Armitage when he met Sri Lanka's Minister for Economic Reform, Science & Technology Milinda Moragoda at the State Department this morning (08th November). Mr. Moragoda is in Washington as part of the ongoing process to keep the US Government briefed on developments concerning the peace process. They discussed the outcome of the second session of the talks which concluded in Bangkok on November 3rd and particularly focused on the meeting to be held in Oslo on November 25th, aimed at mobilizing financial support for immediate humanitarian and rehabilitation action in the North and East. Mr. Armitage said he would be personally leading the US delegation to this meeting and that the US is committed to continuing support for these vital objectives through projects that would yield an immediate impact. He expressed the hope that the negotiating process will lead to a permanent end to the Sri Lankan conflict based on the principles of democracy and respect for human rights, while maintaining the country's territorial integrity. The discussion also focused on the role of the US in providing development assistance for the rest of Sri Lanka. The comprehensive donor conference for this purpose is scheduled to be held in Tokyo early next year. The possible role that the US can play with regard to the Youth Corp and the E-Lanka initiative was also discussed. Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca and James Andrew Bever of USAID were associated at this meeting.
Minister Moragoda also held separate meetings with Assistant Secretary of State Rocca, Jim Moriarty of the National Security Council and Peter Rodman of the Department of Defence.
During his stay in Washington, Minister Moragoda also met with Mr. Shengman Zhang, Managing Director and Acting President of the World Bank. Discussions focused on the forthcoming Oslo meeting. The World Bank expressed satisfaction with the direction of the ongoing peace process and the economic reform program. They also pledged support to the E-Lanka project. He also met the Deputy Managing Director of the IMF Mr. Shigemitsu Sugisaki.
Sri Lanka's Ambassador designate to the US, Devinda Subasinghe and Sri Lanka's Charge d' Affaires a.i. in Washington, J.D.A. Wijewardena were associated with the Minister at these meetings.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
08 November 2002