Sri Lanka greatly appreciates the most timely initiative taken by the Government of Spain, on behalf of the European Union, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and the United State of America and in association with the UNDP, the World Bank and the IMF, to convene and host this International Donor Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq. My delegation also wishes to express its gratitude to the Conference organizers for the excellent arrangements made by them. Mr. President, people of my country have undergone the ravages and sufferings of war for many years. That experience has enabled us to feel the pain and torment of the people of Iraq and share their aspirations to rebuild with dignity a free, democratic and prosperous country. It was only several months ago Mr. President that the international community came forward in strength in Tokyo to support Sri Lanka's on-going peace process. Led by Japan, the support they offered us, besides materially helping Sri Lanka to rebuild and reconstruct the country, was also instrumental in giving us further resolve and conviction to pursue the path of peace and reconciliation. Hence we applaud the Government of Spain for taking this initiative to demonstrate the resolve of the international community by assisting reconstruction efforts of Iraq. In the circumstances, our participation at this International Donor Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, should be seen as a symbolic demonstration of our solidarity with and empathy towards the people of Iraq, who have suffered for a long time and should be assisted as they begin to reconstruct their country and rebuild their society. Mr. President, as a token of our support for the people of Iraq, Sri Lanka is pleased to pledge 100 metric tons of tea and 100,000 pieces of apparel to the people of Iraq. Our pledge amounts to an approximate FOB value of US Dollars 900,000. In addition, Mr. President my Government will of course bear the freight and other related charges for the transport of these pledged items to their destination in Iraq. I wish to conclude my brief intervention expressing the confidence of Sri Lanka that the International Donor community would be generous in their pledges at this Conference and remain engaged in the reconstruction process of Iraq.
21 October 2003 Honourable Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, visited India from 19-21 October 2003 at the invitation of the Government of India. He was accompanied by Tyronne Fernando, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Milinda Moragoda, Minister of Economic Reforms, Science and Technology and other senior officials. The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka held wide-ranging discussions with Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Deputy Prime Minister and Ministers of External Affairs, Commerce & Industry, Civil Aviation and Petroleum & Natural Gas called on Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. The discussions were substantive and held in a cordial atmosphere, reflective of the close relations between the two countries. The two Prime Ministers expressed their happiness that the Free Trade Agreement, which became operational in December 2001, had enabled bilateral trade to cross the US$ 1 billion mark in the financial year 2002-03. A decision to go beyond the Free Trade Agreement was taken during the last visit of the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in June 2002. An India-Sri Lanka Joint Study Group was set up to make recommendations for the establishment of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. The Co-Chairmen of the Joint Study Group presented their recommendations tothe two Prime Ministers on 20th October 2003. Expressing their satisfaction on the speed with which the Joint Study Group prepared its comprehensive report with its far-reaching recommendations, the Prime Ministers congratulated the members of the Group and directed that negotiations begin immediately, with the target of concluding the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement by the end of March 2004. This would enable the two countries to reap the early benefits of freer trade in goods and services and enhanced investment and economic cooperation. The two Prime Ministers noted the successful holding of the 5th session of the Joint Commission Meeting, co-chaired by the Foreign Ministers, in Colombo on 15th October 2003 and the signing of the Agreement to release the second tranche of US$ 30 million out of the US$ 100 million Line of Credit extended to Sri Lanka. They agreed that further Lines of Credit for infrastructure projects could be discussed. The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction that existing understandings on dealing sympathetically and humanely with fishermen who stray into each other's maritime zone were working well. It was noted that a number of Indian fishermen had been released by the Sri Lankan side and several Sri Lankan vessels detained at Nagapattinam had been released for repair and escorted back to Sri Lanka. It was agreed that while it was important that the fishermen should be released early, the boats may be held till the judicial processes in the two countries are completed. The Prime Ministers agreed on the need to undertake enhanced surveillance to minimize incursions, institutionalize assistance for salvage operations of released vessels, pay attention to ecological and conservation aspects and consider licensed fishing within a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on Fisheries. The two Prime Ministers expressed their satisfaction at increased civil aviation links between India and Sri Lanka. They noted that Sri Lankan Airlines had increased the number of its weekly flights to Indian destinations from 29 to 44 since their last meeting. Without prejudice to already existing arrangements, India offered to Sri Lanka the facility of daily air services by its designated airlines between Colombo and the metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata. In addition, unlimited access would be available for air services to and from 18 tourist destinations in India. It was agreed to do away with the existing requirement of Commercial Agreements between designated airlines of the two countries for asymmetrical operations. With a view to increasing tourist flow and connectivity, it was also decided to encourage private scheduled airlines of India, who operate only in the domestic sector at present, to extend their operations to airports in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Prime Minister agreed to reciprocate in terms of the access that airlines from India could have to Sri Lankan airspace. The Sri Lankan Prime Minister proposed commencement of a ferry service linking Colombo with Kochi (Kerala). The Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the significant contribution made by the India-Sri Lanka Foundation towards fostering exchanges in cultural, educational, scientific and technological areas and announced a further contribution of Rs. 1 crore each to enable the Foundation to sustain its diverse activities. Taking note of the continuing acts of terrorism worldwide and in our region, the two Prime Ministers emphasized the need for concerted opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. They agreed that there can be no justification for terrorism, be it political, religious or ideological. They recalled the obligations devolving on States, inter alia, under Security Council Resolution 1373 and the International Convention on the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism. The Kathmandu Declaration adopted at the 11th SAARC Summit held in Kathmandu on 6 January 2002 on criminalization of financing for terrorist purposes and the need to prevent the abuse of financial systems of States was also recalled. They reaffirmed the need to finalize and adopt, at the earliest, the proposed Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism, which would send a strong signal that the international community was united and determined in its efforts to eliminate the scourge of terrorism. Furthermore, they also urged the early conclusion of the proposed Additional Protocol to the SAARC Convention on Suppression of Terrorism. The two Prime Ministers discussed the ongoing cooperation in training and the supply of equipment to the Sri Lankan defence forces and agreed that the two sides will commence discussions with a view to concluding a defence cooperation agreement at the earliest. The Sri Lankan Prime Minister apprised the Indian leadership of recent developments in the peace process and proposals made by his Government for the establishment of an Interim Administration. India expects that the response to the proposals made by the Sri Lankan Government in July 2003 will be reasonable and comprehensive. India supports the process of seeking a negotiated settlement acceptable to all sections of Sri Lankan society within the framework of a united Sri Lanka and consistent with democracy, pluralism and respect for individual rights. It believes that an enduring solution has to emerge purely through internal political processes. India will maintain an abiding interest in the security of Sri Lanka and remains committed to its sovereignty and territorial integrity. India would welcome a resolution of the current impasse in the peace process and an early resumption of negotiations. Any interim arrangement should be an integral part of the final settlement and should be in the framework of the unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. New Delhi October 21, 2003
"The potential in the South Asia region for economic growth and, through it improving the lives of people is still vastly untapped. Development institutions such as the World Bank who are key partners in the process, can play a major role. The World Bank should share global knowledge on what works and what does not; What has succeeded and what has failed and why; and provide concessionary funds to spur development in key areas." Minister Milinda Moragoda, Minister for Economic Reform, Science & Technology, was speaking as the invited and the only keynote speaker at the Development Seminar on "Economic Prospects in South Asia" sponsored by the World Bank in Washington D.C. today. While recognizing the substantial contribution that the World Bank is making in South Asian countries, Minister Moragoda stressed that the World Bank needs to communicate better to the masses, as the institution's policies, though well placed, are often misunderstood. He appreciated that economic development takes time- and is a long term process- but for national leaders and the World Bank to succeed there is need to show early results as well. "It is good to promise honey in the future, but we also need bread today, "he said. Vice President for the World Bank's South Asia Region, emphasized his commitment to support the South Asia region more aggressively - and Sri Lanka in particular given the urgent need in a post conflict situation. Attainment of peace he said was key to attracting huge amounts of donor assistance that is in the pipeline. Praful Patel said that in his recent discussions with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, they had agreed on the priority that needs to be given to building capacity for speedier implementation; and to support upgrading and enhancing infrastructure and basic services to citizens. Mr. Patel said that Minister Moragoda's passionate advocacy for sustained assistance and quicker results was an aspect which was also echoed by leaders in other countries as well - "Minister Moragoda's appeal on behalf of Sri Lanka has been heard loud and clear." Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 15 October 2003

Foreign Minister Fernando underlines the wider benefits of the peace process to Sri Lanka's economy, the country and the world at large

Minister Tyronne Fernando, Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited Los Angeles from September 30 - October 4, 2003 to participate in a series of events organized to promote US-Sri Lanka trade and investment. During the visit Minister Fernando met with US business executives, members of the Sri Lankan community residing in Los Angeles and members of the academic community. Address at the Investors Forum 'The Peace Process is good news not only for Sri Lanka's apparel industry but also for the entire economy, entire country, its people as well as the world at large' remarked Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando at the Investors Forum, 'The Peace Process- Good News for Sri Lanka's Apparel Industry.' The Minister made this observation to underline the wider benefits of the Peace Process. The Investors Forum was jointly organized by the Sri Lanka -America Business Council and the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation in collaboration with the Office of the Sri Lanka Consulate General in Los Angeles. Pointing out that the "LTTE's temporary withdrawal from the peace talks did not mean resumption of war," the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister highlighted to the Business Council representatives, the dividends that have accrued during the past twenty months of the ceasefire such as the robust growth of the Sri Lankan Economy, the bullish sentiment at the Colombo Stock Exchange, the increased flow of investments and the marked revival in tourism. "People's support and involvement, sustained engagement as well as consistent support of the international community," he said, were crucial factors to carry the process forward. Minister Tyronne Fernando invited the Los Angeles Business Community to take advantage of the generous incentives offered to investors by Sri Lanka, its business friendly environment and the strategic location. He recalled that California was the fifth largest economy in the world. Two Sri Lankan business executives, Ajith Dias, Chairman of Brandix Garments Pvt. Ltd. and Anil Hirdaramani, Director of the Hirdaramani Group of Companies, made presentations at this event. Bruce S. Berton, Director, International Business Consulting, Stonefield Josephson Inc. gave insights to the participants on the structure and requirements of the apparel industry in the West Coast. Religious Observances held at the Consulate Office Hon. Tyronne Fernando attended the religious observances held at the Sri Lanka Consulate Office. The Chief Sanganayaka in the USA, the most Ven. Piyananda Walpola, and Rev. Fr. Damian Fernando addressed the gathering and blessed the Hon. Minister. The most Ven. Ahangama Dhammarama, Chief Incumbent, Pasadena Temple and the Ven. Ambalantota Kolitha from Sarathchandra Buddhist Center also graced this occasion. The Ven. Ambalantota Kolitha handed over a donation for flood relief to the visiting Minister. Book Launching Ceremony Following religious observances, the Minister attended a book launching ceremony. Dr. Ananda W.P. Guruge, (author and a former Sri Lanka Ambassador to the USA), the Dean of Academic Affairs, Hsi Lai University, presented two books titled "Free at last in Paradise" and its sequel "Serendipity of Andrew George" to Minister Fernando. Luncheon Meeting with the World Affairs Council The Minister addressed a luncheon meeting Chaired by the President of the World Affairs Council, Mr. J. Curtis Mack II. Minister Fernando expressing his views on the future of the United Nations and the Security Council said, "we need to look beyond Iraq and pursue collective efforts to restore the UN 's role as a premier force for peace and security, through consensus." Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 04 October 2003

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage re- affirms the US Government’s continuing support for Sri Lanka and its commitment to further expand and enhance the bilateral relationship

Minister Milinda Moragoda, Minister for Economic Reform, Science & Technology, visited Washington D.C. from September 29 - October 1, 2003 for a series of bilateral meetings. Minister Moragoda’s visit to Washington D.C. follows the call on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe by Ms. Christina Rocca, Assistant Secretary for South Asian Affairs of the Department of State, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly Sessions in New York. During his visit, Minister Moragoda met with senior officials of the US Administration, members of Congress and US business executives. US-Sri Lanka Bilateral Discussions Minister Moragoda met with the Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, Steven Hadley, Deputy National Security Advisor and Ms. Christina Rocca, Assistant Secretary for South Asian Affairs of the Department of State. The Minister discussed with the Deputy Secretary of State, the current status of the peace process, improving prospects of the Sri Lankan economy and other bilateral issues. Mr. Armitage re-affirmed the US Government’s continuing support for Sri Lanka and its commitment to further expand and enhance the bilateral relationship. Meeting with the Deputy National Security Advisor, Steven Hadley, at the White House, Minister Moragoda discussed the Prime Minister’s initiative for UN reforms and bilateral issues. The Minister met with the new Deputy United States Trade Representative, Josette Shiner, and Assistant United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Ashley Wills. The meeting was joined by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Robert Zoellick. The Minister discussed the improving growth momentum of the Sri Lankan economy following the cease-fire agreement and the Government’s economic reform agenda. Ambassador Zoellick, whilst complimenting the efforts of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and the Minister in undertaking major economic reforms, also re-stated the commitment of the USTR to supporting the reform program through deepening the bilateral trade and investment relationship. Inaugural Meeting to launch the US-Sri Lanka Working Group at the United States Chamber of Commerce The Minister also addressed the inaugural meeting to launch the US-Sri Lanka Working Group at the United States Chamber of Commerce which was attended by thirty leading US companies. The meeting was co-hosted by Thomas Donohue, President of the United States Chamber of Commerce and Devinda R. Subasinghe, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the United States. The establishment of the US-Sri Lanka Working Group at the US Chamber of Commerce will promote increased business relationships with Sri Lanka and provide a strong impetus to deepening the trade relationship and the flow of US investments to the country. Meetings with Members of Congress Minister Moragoda met with Senator Michael Enzi (Republican–Wyoming), Representative Jerry Weller (Republican–Illinois) and Senator John McCain (Republican–Arizona). Senator Enzi, serves on the Committee on Foreign Relations and Senator McCain is Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Representative Weller serves on the House Ways and Means Committee responsible for trade matters, especially for bilateral free trade agreements and Co-chairs the Sri Lanka Congressional Caucus. The Senators and the Congressman expressed their support for a US–Sri Lanka FTA and reiterated their commitment to strengthening the bilateral trade and business relationship. “Minister Moragoda’s visit to Washington following Ms. Rocca’s meeting with the Prime Minister in New York constitutes an emerging trend of regular Sri Lanka - US consultations on bilateral and global developments and issues,” said Ambassador Subasinghe. Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 01 October 2003