Annual Forum Sponsored by the International Center for Terrorism Studies of the Potomac Institute Ambassador Devinda R. Subasinghe was lead speaker at the Annual Ambassadors' Forum sponsored by the International Center for Terrorism Studies of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies (www.PotomacInstitute.org) at the National Press Club today. The 2004 Ambassadors Forum comprised participation by a cross section of diplomats, US government officials, academics and journalists and was titled "International Cooperation in Combating Terrorism - An Agenda for the 21st Century". Michael S. Swetnam, Chairman and CEO of the Board of the Potomac Institute delivered the opening remarks and Prof Yonah Alexander, Director, International Center for Terrorism Studies chaired the Forum. The Potomac Institute of Policy Studies is an independent, non profit public policy research institute. The Institute identifies and aggressively shepherds discussion on key science, technology and security issues facing society, providing in particular, an academic forum for the study of related policy issues. The Institute's current endeavors have required the formation of special efforts in terrorism and asymmetry, emerging threats and opportunities and security. Ambassador Subasinghe who made the opening speech, described the Sri Lankan experience of the 20 year conflict where the full spectrum of terrorism in all its manifestations were evident. Ambassador Subasinghe said: "International cooperation to combat terrorism must recognize the need to protect democratic values and the necessity to actively participate in global markets". His speech covered important facets of modem day terrorism and the required global and national counter measures. He stated: "Without understanding current and future threats and adversaries, it is well nigh impossible to formulate effective policy or practical responses". He appealed to the international community for rapid implementation of all existing UN conventions, which provide a solid legal framework for global efforts in the fight against terrorism. The Ambassadors for Algeria and Turkey also spoke at the 2004 Ambassadors' Forum which was telecast live on C-Span (www.cspan.org ). Australian TV, Egyptian TV and Voice of America. Please click here for the full text of the speech given by Ambassador Devinda R. Subasinghe at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 07 January 2004
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN COMBATING TERRORISM: AN AGENDA FOR THE 21ST CENTURY INTRODUCTION Terrorism as we are aware, violates the most elementary values of human co-existence and the rules and norms of the national and international order. It has an extremely significant foreign-policy dimension too. By operating worldwide, the terrorists have accessed new ideas, resources, and fresh opportunities. In addition to accumulating political influence and economic resources, they have acquired specialized and dual technologies, and learnt tactics and techniques from both the East and West. Over a period of time many rag-tag groups have evolved into sophisticated organizations. As a global problem, the consensus is, that terrorism must be met with an international response. Sri Lanka is just emerging from a brutal 20 year conflict in which more than 65,000 people, both combatants as well as civilians perished. During this time the country experienced the full spectrum of terrorism in all its manifestations. Now, fortunately, there is a cease fire in place for the last two years and there is much hope and expectations for the future, amidst a few temporary pitfalls. Being a small nation, Sri Lanka nevertheless, participated actively in the Global War on Terrorism. The country is staunchly supportive of the necessity to protect all democratic values and the requirement to actively participate in global markets and related economic growth. GLOBALIZATION OF TERROR The forces of globalization have facilitated the rise, growth, mobility and acquisition of special weapons/dual technologies by terrorist groups. For instance, the Internet is widely used not only to reach out to existing and potential support bases, but also to shorten the planning and preparation phases of terrorist (attacks against civilians) and guerrilla (attacks against combatants) operations. Moreover, using inexpensive travel and widespread communication, terrorist groups have successfully and in unprecedented ways influenced their existing and potential support bases amidst them and far away from the theatres of conflict. Terrorism as we know, is not a new threat. The nations of the world, bar a few, are becoming truly united in the face of this historic challenge, rising to a new level of cooperation against the groups and individuals who threaten our way of life and the networks and powers behind them. The United States, the European Union, Russia and-very significantly--an impressive number of the Islamic States are turning from initial shock and condemnation towards constructive engagement in the expected long struggle against the evil of terrorism. It is significant to emphasize the importance of the contribution of the Islamic world in this struggle. We have heard of the "clash of civilizations" and the much taunted "holy war" between Islam and the rest of the world. A strong condemnation of these terrorist acts from many predominantly Islamic countries demonstrates both the unity of the international community and its ability to isolate, punish and defeat terrorist groups and networks, regardless of their regional or religious backgrounds. It must not be a clash of civilizations, but a struggle--within each of our societies, between those inspired and guided by a vision of betterment and those representing ideologies based on hatred. WAR AGAINST TERRORISM Considered a mere nuisance and a law and order problem during the Cold War, terrorism has become the most pressing domestic, regional and international security issue for governments today. In the twenty first century, mankind is facing its first great challenge. which has been labelled in the media as "the war against terrorism". But this is an entirely new kind of war, because we face a new kind of enemy: it is not a single entity, not even a single State, but a well established network that functions in many countries, using advantages of modern technology and globalization. Over the last decade, gradually losing much of its sponsorship, international terrorism has developed a huge and well-concealed infrastructure of support. SHIFT IN THE GRAVITY OF TERRORISM Without understanding current and future adversaries, it is not possible to formulate effective policy or practical responses. The nature and the context in which they emerge, grow, decline and disappear must be understood. In a globalized world, terrorists and criminals are highly mobile. The analogy of a balloon or a shark applies to terrorist groups. Like when a balloon is squeezed, it bulges out in another place, terrorists rapidly move in search of new opportunities. Similarly, like a shark rapidly moving underwater in search of prey, contemporary terrorists move rapidly and survive on opportunity1. As opportunities for terrorists to move are many, action against terrorists must be multinational. THE INITIATIVES OF THE UN While we all look for new long-term strategies, including, a new sense of urgency in adopting a comprehensive convention against terrorism, we need to remember that we have twelve existing United Nations conventions and protocols dealing with terrorism. The 11 September acts of terror underscores the need to ratify and implement them. This is one of the most vital steps that needs to be taken without delay. It is, I believe important to mention only the most recent two. Firstly, The International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, adopted on 9 December 1999, states that a person commits an offence if that person "provides or collects funds with the intention that they should be used or in the knowledge that they are to be used, in full or in part, in order to carry out" acts of terrorism, and calls on all State Parties to "take appropriate measures ... for the identification, detection and freezing or seizure of any funds used or allocated for the purpose of committing the offences". Dear colleagues, fortunately, 132 countries have signed the convention, and 31 have become parties by ratifying the treaty. This indeed is good news. However, it is time to issue a strong appeal for a quick implementation of all existing UN Conventions, which provide a solid legal framework for global efforts in the eradication of terrorism. This is imperative. Secondly, The Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, signed in December 2000 in Palermo, provides powerful instruments that, even though not directly aimed at terrorism, can help in that effort as well. These include: increased cooperation among the States and their law enforcement agencies; new tools in tracking down the terrorists' assets and preventing money-laundering (such as lifting bank secrecy that protects them); easing and speeding up of extradition procedures; and protection of witnesses. This is why we must use this opportunity to appeal strongly for a quick ratification and a full implementation of existing United Nations conventions, which provide a solid legal framework for global efforts in the eradication of terrorism. THE US INITIATIVES I must also mention the efforts taken by the US which I would like to term Major Initiatives. These are:
  • Creating of smart borders (Canada and Mexico)
  • Combating fraudulent travel documents.
  • Increasing the security of international shipping containers. (Container Security Initiative)
  • Intensifying international law enforcement cooperation.
  • Improving cooperation in response to attacks.
  • Proliferation Security Initiative
INTERNATIONAL COUNTER TERRORISM UNIT There is also a considerable lobby for the establishment of an International Institution to Fight Terrorism : an International Counter -Terrorism Unit. This assumes that the international community has arrived at an accepted definition of terrorism, and the concomitant establishment of a permanent international mechanism to combat terrorism. One of the first benefits of such a step would be that democracies with less experience in combating terrorism would no longer be as powerless when confronted by the threat of terrorism. This is food for thought. OTHER PERCEPTIONS Finally, It is important to analyze at this juncture, how other important players view the threat. I shall take two examples. Firstly China. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman recently stated that the Chinese side opposes terrorist activities in any form and supports attacks on terrorism as long as the attacks are based on conclusive evidence and with clear targets and a guarantee of the safety of innocent civilians. He also stated that The United Nations Charter should be respected and the role of the UN and its Security Council should be strengthened, adding China will discuss with the UN Security Council all proposals that are conducive to cracking down on terrorism. This is extremely encouraging. Richard Nixon had once remarked that had Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew lived in a different country in a different time, he would have achieved the status of a major historical figure-a Churchill, Disraeli or Gladstone. Lee recently turned 80, having for 45 years carefully observed international trends and maneuvered to keep his city-state secure and prosperous. While in Singapore a few weeks ago, the NEWSWEEK magazine interviewed him. When questioned on the American-European divide, Mr Lee had stated that The Europeans underestimate the problem of Al Qaeda-style terrorism. "They think that the United States is exaggerating the threat. They compare it to their own many experiences with terror-the IRA, the Red Brigade, the Baader-Meinhof, ETA. But they are wrong." Lee was critical of both sides of the Atlantic alliance on Iraq. "When America and Europe are divided, when Japan is hesitant, the extremists are emboldened and think they can win against a divided group. The terrorists' tactics for the time being are to hit only Americans, Israelis and America's strong supporters, the British, the Italians, the Turks, warning the Japanese but leaving others alone. They intend to divide and conquer." CONCLUSION As post-modern terrorist groups are multidimensional, they operate militarily, politically, financially and ideologically. As such, the efforts against terrorism must be multi-pronged or on all its fronts. As terrorists have greater patience and commitment, efforts against terrorism must be sustained and far-reaching. Otherwise, counter terrorism initiatives against an adversary with greater staying power are bound to fail. A brief look at the regional and functional developments in the history of terrorism demonstrates that terrorist groups have moved across geographic boundaries and regions to survive. Furthermore, to adapt to the changing environment, the phenomenon of terrorism itself has undergone profound change. From a Sri Lankan perspective, being a tiny island nation, all efforts are made by us to support the Global war on terror and its manifestations. We know that we are not alone in the accomplishment of this needy endeavour but much more needs to be achieved. Sri Lanka has begun its own journey towards resolving the longstanding conflict with the support of the international community. It is pertinent to mention the vital role being played by Norway as the facilitator and US, Japan, EU as underwriters of the reconstruction program and the active support of India. Ladies and Gentlemen, these are difficult times and it is opportune for us to reflect on all these matters and map out a fool-proof strategy, globally, together, to eradicate, if not control this menace. Thank You. 1 Bruce Hoffman, a pre-eminent specialist on terrorism, equaled terrorist behavior to that of sharks. Hoffman, personal communication, September 2001. To understand terrorist behavior, see, Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism (Columbia University Press, New York, 1998)
Hon. Prime Minister of Pakistan Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali Excellencies, Heads of State and Government, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies & Gentlemen, It gives me great pleasure to be present here, in this beautiful city of Islamabad, to attend the 12th SAARC Summit. I avail myself of this opportunity to thank His Excellency President Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Jamali and the Government of Pakistan for the warm welcome and the generous hospitality that my delegation and I have been privileged to receive. The excellent arrangements made for this Summit would, I am assured, contribute to the success of this meeting. On behalf of my Government and my own behalf, I wish to extend to you, Prime Minister Jamali, our congratulations and good wishes on your assumption of the Chairmanship of our Association. We are confident Excellency, that under your wise and committed guidance, SAARC will make positive progress on its long journey towards the achievement of our common objectives. Mr. Chairman, I feel encouraged by the deep commitment you have expressed towards the SAARC process. I am personally aware of Your Excellency's abiding interest in the progress of SAARC. The thought provoking and constructive ideas expressed by you today, would prove to be immensely useful in our deliberations in the next few days. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to His Excellency the Prime Minister of Nepal, Rt. Hon. Surya Bahadur Thapa, for his wise leadership of SAARC under difficult circumstances. Your Excellency, the SAARC process has indeed been enriched under your guidance. I wish to express our deep appreciation to Secretary General Mr. Raheem, for the significant role he has played in the implementation of the decisions taken at the last SAARC Summit in Kathmandu. I wish him further success in his stewardship of our Association. Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, SAARC has during its relatively short existence traversed a difficult path, seeking its way through the thickets of intra-regional and bilateral tensions. Yet, I have always believed that the aspirations of our peoples of South Asia, coupled with the necessity for an integrated regional co-operation amongst our member States will triumph over all obstacles. Our presence here, today, for the convening of this Summit here in Islamabad, is proof enough of the commitment of all member States to make SAARC a living and dynamic force, despite the challenges that we are called upon to face from time to time. The vision and courage demonstrated recently by the leaders of India and Pakistan in their efforts to resolve bilateral issues, have infused this Summit, as well as the process of SAARC, with a renewed sense of purpose and vigour. Our prayers and good wishes will be with you during this historic moment in Indo-Pakistan relations. Our Summit takes place at a moment in the history of international relations when regional co-operation seems to demand center stage, as an effective means of attaining the benefits of economic co-operation and for the protection of the rights and interests of States particularly of developing States. Several regional organizations of North America, Europe, East Asia and the Pacific are surging ahead, achieving great successes for their member States. We, in South Asia, face the danger of marginalization in the global economy and thus, even the risk of regression in the spheres of economic and social development. But recent developments in our region have given us great cause for hope for the future of SAARC. The reduction of tensions between the two largest member States of our Association gives rise to much confidence. The singularly significant statements made by His Excellency Prime Minister Vajpayee recently in New Delhi, at a symposium titled the "Peace Dividends-Progress for India and South Asia", is an expression of the clarity of his vision and his courage with regard to the promotion of co-operation in our region. Prime Minister Vajpayee explained there, how we could put aside mistrust and dispel suspicions in each other, through the development of greater economic co-operation and how we could jointly resolve the problems of arms smuggling, drug trafficking, money laundering and other crimes. Excellency, you went on to make a historic statement that "once we reach that stage we would not be far from mutual security co-operation, open borders, and even a single currency". Let us then, resolve to move forward without further delay along the path of our chosen collective objective of faster economic integration in the region. Mr. Chairman, the spirit of co-operation that recently prevailed in the region has brought us tangible benefits. (1) South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) The efforts made by all our countries to conclude SAFTA have finally secured the finalizing of the agreement. Sri Lanka is particularly pleased that this Summit will see the signing of the Framework Treaty on SAFTA. This is indeed a historic step for regional economic co-operation. We must now ensure that we finalize the annexure in order to operationalise the treaty by 2006. Accommodation and compromise will be required wherever economic asymmetries exist. It is necessary that we keep in mind that short-term losses would be compensated by the opportunities gained from trade expansion under SAFTA. As the pioneer South Asian State to undertake economic liberalization, Sri Lanka welcomes the conclusion of SAFTA, even though ours is a small and vulnerable economy. We are pleased to have made a significant contribution to the process of trade liberalization in our region, through the processes of SAPTA and SAFTA. I would like to caution fellow member States that as the Secretary General states in his report, SAFTA may not automatically lead to enhancement of intra-regional trade. We need a number of trade facilitation measures in order that we achieve the benefits of SAFTA. Let us never forget that despite our geographic proximity and certain similarities of economic infrastructure, intra-SAARC trade still remains at an extremely unsatisfactory 5%, compared for instance, with 38% within ASEAN. Today, we conclude the SAFTA arrangement at a moment when the world has arrived at the realization of some of the disadvantages of the present multilateral trade processes, such as the WTO. This situation has given a new relevance to regional co-operation. We believe that SAARC could provide valuable options for South Asia. I wish to place before this Summit that at this historic moment when SAARC has reached the point when, with the signing of SAFTA, we have the possibility of accelerating our progress towards social and economic development. We would need to formulate a clear vision and a plan of action to situate the economies of South Asia within the global economy. We must strengthen the present arrangements between SAARC members for consultation on WTO issues. Regular consultations on strategies to be adopted by member States, regarding all WTO policies and issues has become essential. Needless to say, that we have to take into account our own specific civilizational ethos, our cultural traditions and value systems, when aligning our economies with the rest of the world. It is important to note that globalization does not mean the continued hegemony of the richer nations imposed upon the poorer ones. Globalization should afford the space and freedom to developing nations, in order that they become active partners of the globalised economy, while recognizing the specific conditions and thereby the needs of developing countries and their right to make their own economic policy choices. In this context, may I venture to propose that : - We may have to consider the re-negotiation of the World Trade Agenda. - The principles that underlie decisions in trade must attempt to create a level playing field for developing and developed nations. For instance, policies regarding subsidies and competitive markets must be the same for all States. We cannot be called upon to abandon vulnerable sectors of our economy such as the farmers and small industrialists to the whims of the global markets, while developed nations operate extensive protectionist policies for these sectors in their countries. - We may also need to consider a collective approach to the concept of debt forgiveness to be adopted as an international policy, if we are to win the war against poverty in our region. (2) Poverty Alleviation This brings us to the all important issue of poverty alleviation. This subject has long remained on the SAARC agenda without much progress. Although our region boasts of rich human resources and vast technological advances, a rich diversity of bio-resources and unexploited energy resources coupled with a comparatively young population, South Asia continues to have the highest number of people in the world living below the poverty line. A few laudable initiatives relating to poverty alleviation have been undertaken by SAARC since the last Summit. The South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation has been re-constituted with the objective of formulating and implementing measures for alleviation of poverty in the region. "The Regional Poverty Profile" has also been completed and will serve as an important database on poverty. An Action Plan has been formulated by our ministers of Finance and Planning. We now need to streamline these positive initiatives and to undertake early implementation of the Plan of Action. The ISACPA report underlines the advantages of exchanging the experiences of successful programmes within the region. The report makes special mention of some of Sri Lanka's successes in this field. We could discuss these issues in further detail in Colombo when Sri Lanka hosts the third round of Ministerial meetings. (3) The Social Charter We are also particularly pleased with the conclusion of the SAARC Social Charter, which will be signed at this Summit. The concept of a Social Charter was proposed at the Colombo Summit in 1998 and I am pleased that Sri Lanka had the privilege of guiding the initial steps towards the conclusion of the Charter. We must congratulate Nepal for the efforts that went into the conclusion of the Charter. This Charter is an important landmark in the SAARC process. It encapsulates a vision that was formulated through an open, inclusive process, which obtained the participation of a broad spectrum of civil society. This Charter adopts broad goals and objectives for national action in a variety of spheres ranging from poverty alleviation to health, education, women, youth and children. (4) SAARC Convention on Suppression of Terrorism At the last Kathmandu Summit we recognized that terrorism with its ever-increasing linkages to drugs, arms trafficking, and money laundering, constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security in the 21st century. The events of September 11, 2001, marked a watershed in the global security environment and the commitment of the international community to combat the phenomenon of terrorism. We have seen the strengthening of the UN legal network relating to the suppression of terrorism in particular financing of terrorism, through the adoption of several conventions and resolutions in the last three years. Sri Lanka's proposal to the Kathmandu Summit to draft an Additional Protocol to the SAARC Convention on Suppression of Terrorism, with the purpose of incorporating these new obligations will be realized with the adoption of the Additional Protocol at this Summit. We greatly welcome this development, which will strengthen the SAARC Convention concluded 16 years ago and bring our organization in line with international efforts at combating terrorism. I had occasion to state at our Kathmandu Summit that in the past decades, terrorism has become the one, single most, terrifying factor in national and international politics. I also observed that an important corollary to combating terrorism is the identification and resolution of root causes through courageous and bold approaches. In Sri Lanka, we are beginning to witness the benefits of such an endeavour. The initiative undertaken by my government in 1994 to resolve the ethnic question and the subsequent armed conflict, through a process of dialogue and negotiations, was revived two years ago by the present government. The process is a complex and an intricate one. We are attempting to deal with the core issues of the ethnic question within the framework of sovereignty, territorial integrity and national security of the State. The situation is further compounded by the delicate balance required for cohabitation within the government between the two major political parties. I believe that we are all firmly resolved to move the process of peaceful resolution of the conflict forward despite differences of opinion and style. The Ceasefire Agreement between the Government and the LTTE has continued for two years now. The Government, the Prime Minister and I are resolved to see the Peace Process move forward overcoming the various obstacles we confront today. (5) Autonomous Advocacy Group of Women Personalities (AAGWP) The constitution of the Autonomous Advocacy Group of Women Personalities (AAGWP) is another SAARC initiative, which I have followed with interest. This will be an effective measure in formulating gender responsive policies in the region. (6) Child Welfare & Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution Two important Regional Conventions relating to Child Welfare and Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution were concluded at the 11th Summit. Sri Lanka has ratified the former Convention and the latter will be ratified this year. (7) People to People Contact in the Region The true measure of the success of regional co-operation does not lie in the frequency of official meetings or even in Summit level interaction, but in the frequency and depth of people to people contact in the region. I am of the opinion that we need to further strengthen interaction between the official SAARC activities and the non-official linkages. In order to remain relevant, SAARC should expand beyond its official ceremonial activities to involve its intended beneficiaries - the people. This requires primarily the removal of barriers to intra-regional interaction. Some of these barriers are physical, such as inadequate channels of access and information, while others are intangible results of political insecurity vis-à-vis our neighbours. We need to make further efforts to improve air travel as well as other modes of transport between our countries. Ironically, many SAARC countries remain better connected to extra regional destinations than to others in the SAARC region. Sri Lanka has also taken the initiative in exempting SAARC nationals from visa requirements for purposes of tourism and business. The common historical and cultural heritage of the region also needs to be recognized as a linkage that fosters greater regional interaction and identity. I must also refer to the growing importance of the role played by intellectuals, professionals and eminent persons is an important complimentary process, which brings together the peoples of our region. Sri Lankans are taking lead roles in the Sri Lanka chapters of the APEX bodies of SAARC such as SAARC Chambers of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), SAARCLAW and South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA). (8) SAARC Cultural Centre In this context, I have taken personal interest in the establishment of a SAARC Cultural Centre in Sri Lanka. Our vision for South Asia runs contrary to the contemporary interpretation prevalent in some quarters, where culture is seen as a dividing influence. Our ancient and rich South Asian cultures have been enriched by many civilizations, and the SAARC Cultural Centre will symbolize the potential for unity in such diversity. Mr. Chairman and Excellencies, I truly believe that today SAARC has arrived at the threshold of effective action for the realization of the dreams and aspirations of our peoples for collective action towards achieving freedom from poverty, from ignorance, underdevelopment and perhaps from constant conflict. The new sense of revival, together with the continued commitment of us all to SAARC, I am certain, will ensure positive progress under the able guidance and the committed leadership of Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali. I wish you, Mr. Chairman, the Government and people of Pakistan all success in discharging the challenging tasks that lie ahead of you. Assalamu Allaikkum, May the Triple Gem Bless You And God Bless You.

Speaking on "Sri Lanka: Prospects for Peace," Ambassador Subasinghe highlighted that the domestic consensus for peace accompanied by the strong commitment of the international community for a peaceful resolution of the conflict provided a sound bedrock for peace efforts in the country

Ambassador Devinda R. Subasinghe, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the United States, was the guest speaker at the "Ambassador's Forum Series" at The Elliot School of International Affairs, George Washington University. The Forum provides a unique venue for Ambassadors from all regions of the world to present their views to the George Washington University community comprising both students and faculty. Previous speakers in the Fall series included the Ambassador of Sweden, His Excellency Jan Eliasson. Invited guests included members of the US government, think - tanks, the media and the Embassy Staff. The forum was Chaired by Ambassador Karl F. Inderfurth, former Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs and currently Director, International Affairs Program at the Elliot School of International Affairs. In his address, the Ambassador provided a profile of the country's twenty year old conflict, current efforts at resolution of the ethnic problem, the role of the international community and recent political developments in Sri Lanka. Speaking on the current constitutional impasse in the country, the Ambassador mentioned that the peace process was not in jeopardy as there is a strong commitment on the part of the present Government and the President for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Further, there seem to be an increased appreciation among the United National Front Government and the People's Alliance of the need to make co-habitation work and for adopting a bipartisanship approach to dealing with critical national issues, such as the ethnic problem. The Ambassador highlighted that the current political situation is, in part, a natural concomitant of the workings of the 1978 Constitution. According to Ambassador Subasinghe, the best prospects for peace lay in the mandate for peace given by the people of Sri Lanka and the unwavering support of the international community for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Giving a realistic appraisal of the present situation in Sri Lanka, Ambassador Subasinghe said, "At present there is no war, nor peace in Sri Lanka. The risks need to be mitigated in the near future." Providing insights and recommendations for continuing progress toward peace, the Ambassador said that the twenty-month ceasefire had resulted in increased economic growth, higher levels of investment and tourism arrivals and lower inflation, resulting in strengthening the country's economic prospects. "Therefore, the continuing ceasefire, the ongoing dialogue between the President and the Prime Minister and the budget being debated despite the deadlock over the defense portfolio, are salutary factors in what seems like a challenging situation," said the Ambassador. Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 08 December 2003

Key Technology and Economic development MOUs signed during visit

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday concluded a 3 day visit to the US, receiving strong support from President Bush for his leadership and his commitment to peace. President George W. Bush welcomes Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka to the Oval Office Wednesday, November 5, 2003. White House Spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters shortly after the White House meeting "The President made it very clear that the United States supports the Prime Minister's efforts, and the President reaffirmed our strong support for the Peace Process and the democratic institutions that are in place in Sri Lanka." The spokesman added that the two leaders also discussed the importance of trade. " The President thanked the Prime Minister for the positive role Sri Lanka played in Cancun", and "both leaders expressed their commitment to free trade and moving forward on the Doha talks", Mr. McClellan added. Earlier the Prime Minister held a series of meetings with senior administration officials. Meeting with Acting Secretary of State Richard Armitage on Monday, the Prime Minister discussed the economic situation in Sri Lanka, and developments in the peace process particularly in the light of the proposals put forward by the LTTE. Speaking to the media following the meeting, Mr. Armitage, while noting that "the LTTE proposals were significant in that this was the first time that such a comprehensive delineation has been made by the LTTE and may form the basis for a way forward," added that "it does go outside the bounds of what was envisioned in Oslo and in Tokyo where we talked about a federation, democratic society, respect for human rights and territorial integrity". "We need to come back to the boundaries envisioned at Oslo", Mr. Armitage said. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who met the Prime Minister at the Pentagon, assured continued US support to Sri Lanka and discussed elevating defense and security cooperation. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz escorts Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka (left) into the Pentagon on Nov. 3, 2003. The leaders are meeting to discuss defense issues of mutual interest. DoD photograph by Helene C. Stikkel At a meeting with US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick , the discussion centred on measures aimed at moving the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) towards a free trade agreement. Meeting Deputy Secretary of Commerce Sam Bodman, the Prime Minister said his government sought to use trade as a tool for economic reform. The Prime Minister also met with the Director of the Peace Corps Gaddi Vasquez, to discuss the re-starting of Peace Corps operations in Sri Lanka later next year. The programme will focus on Information Technology and entrepreneurship training. The Prime Minister met with key Congressional leaders to discuss bilateral political, trade and economic issues and to secure their support for the early commencement of negotiations for a free trade agreement between the US and Sri Lanka. He addressed a meeting of the House Committee on Ways and Means, which has jurisdiction over all trade agreements. Rep. William Thomas (R-CA), the Chairman of the Committee hosted the meeting, which was attended by members of the Committee including Rep. Phillip Crane (R-IL), Chairman of the Trade Sub -Committee, Rep. Mac Collins (R-GA), Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL), Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee and Rep. Sander M. Levin (D-MI), Ranking Member of Trade Sub-Committee. The Prime Minister also had separate meetings with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-IN), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee. The Prime Minister had discussions with the lawmakers on bilateral trade and economic cooperation that would advance economic development through bilateral trade liberalization. He described how Sri Lanka, a trade dependent economy, has no alternative but to liberalize its trade and integrate with the world economy and the vision of the government to offer Sri Lanka as a "value addition platform" and the gateway to South Asia. The Prime Minister's visit resulted in a number of agreements to further business opportunities in the knowledge economy sectors such as biotechnology, Information and Communication Technology. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Sri Lanka and the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) which enables funding for technical assistance, feasibility studies, training, orientation visits and business workshops with particular attention to the areas of aviation, biotechnology and information and communication technology, was signed by Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando. Minister of Economic Reform, Science and Technology Milinda Moragoda signed documents with the Biotechonomy Group for a study on the development of the biotechnology sector in Sri Lanka and a Memorandum of Understanding with the Microsoft Corporation to provide support for the E-Sri Lanka initiative. The MOU will provide a multi million dollar investment from Microsoft in technology, trading, educational assistance and infrastructure support over a five year period. Microsoft will also be setting up a subsidiary in Sri Lanka by the end of 2003. Accompanied by US Congressman Chris Van Hollen Jr.(D-MD), Prime Minister Wickremesinghe also visited the "Bio- Tech Corridor" in Rockville, Maryland. He visited the Human Genome Sciences (HGS) offices and laboratories located in the BioTech Corridor in Rockville, Maryland. The Congressman, in whose Congressional district the facility is located, is also the son of Ambassador Christopher Van Hollen who had previously served as US Ambassador in Sri Lanka. HGS is a pioneer in genomics for the discovery and the development of new pharmaceutical products including the clinical development of drugs to treat such diseases as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and hepatitis C. The Prime Minister also addressed a round table discussion at the American Enterprise Institute, which was attended by leading policy analysts. Oval Office picture gallery Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 06 November 2003
Program Statements Agreements Media Media interviews conducted by Minister of Foreign Affairs Tyronne Fernando are as follows -
  • BBC TV (World & UK)
  • CNN (Europe and Latin America)
  • CNN (Asia)
  • Reuters TV
  • Associated Press TV
  • BBC Radio (World)
  • BBC Radio (Domectic)