“The United States will continue to stand with you as your friend and your partner. While our level of cooperation today is unprecedented, there is always more progress to be made”, said Acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Ambassador Bruce Wharton speaking as the chief guest at the celebrations hosted by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington D.C. to mark the 69th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s independence.
Ambassador Wharton further observed, “Today Sri Lanka has the potential to become the next Asian Tiger”, it boasts one of the most strategic maritime locations in the entire Indo-Pacific: at the nautical crossroads of Africa, South Asia, and East Asia, with the Strait of Hormuz to its west and the Strait of Malacca to its east. Forty percent of all seaborne oil passes through the former and half the world’s merchant fleet capacity sails through the latter, making the sea lanes off of Sri Lanka’s southern coast some of the world’s most important economic arteries. Pointing to U.S. economic cooperation with Sri Lanka, he noted, “All of this cooperation wouldn’t be possible without the democratic progress Sri Lanka has made and its renewed commitment to reconciliation, accountable government, and freedom of expression.”
In his remarks, Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam quoted excerpts from messages of the President, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, relating to governance, promoting reconciliation, and striving for equitable economic development.
Commenting on bilateral relations, Ambassador Kariyawasam referred in particular to the high level U.S.-Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue and the selection of Sri Lanka for a compact programme of the Millennium Challenge Corporation in 2016, and remarked that the leaders of Sri Lanka look forward to working with the new US Administration to build on the exponential progress of the multi-faceted bilateral relationship, nurtured especially during the last two years. As an “island nation” considered a pre-eminent maritime hub of the Indo-Asia-Pacific, Sri Lanka values its ever-growing partnership with the U.S. The U.S. can be a natural partner to Sri Lanka as it progresses on the challenging transformative journey, to develop the nation as a modern democracy, rapidly integrating with the world of business and trade, in peace and friendship, for the mutual benefit of both countries.
The celebrations were attended by a large gathering of Sri Lankan Americans, the D.C. diplomatic community, senior U.S. government officials and several Representatives from the U.S. Congress, including Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama, member of the Sri Lanka Caucus Rep. David Price of North Carolina, and Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida.
In the morning of February 4, the Ambassador and the Embassy staff hosted a solemn independence commemoration event at the Embassy with multi-faith observances conducted by religious dignitaries representing the Buddhist, Hindu, Islam and Christian faiths and with the participation of Sri Lankan community representatives. Minister of Science, Technology and Research Susil Premajayantha, visiting DC, was a special guest on this occasion.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
February 7, 2017