On Wednesday, July 16, 2003, His Excellency Devinda R. Subasinghe, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the United States, and Anthony Lake, Chairman of the Board of The Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI), jointly hosted a gathering of eminent personalities in Washington DC, to raise funds for mine detection dogs to "sniff out" landmines and save lives in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Government has requested MLI's assistance in establishing an indigenous mine detection dog program in Sri Lanka. The Ambassador noted that despite the ceasefire after 20 years of conflict, "an estimated 700,000 landmines continue to cripple and kill innocent people, instill fear, discourage resettlement, development and deny use of land in the northern and eastern portions of Sri Lanka". MLI is a Virginia-based, non-profit organization dedicated to donating trained mine detection dogs to severely contaminated countries. The Institute combines tax-deductible contributions from private donors with government funds to train local handlers to employ the dogs effectively in national mine clearance programs. Ambassador Subasinghe explained that with current landmine removal capabilities it will take 25 -30 years to free the country of mines. He made special mention of the untiring efforts of Mrs Diana Enzi, Wife of Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) who had been the initiator for the Children Against the Mine Problem (CHAMPS) program. He explained that CHAMPS allows children to become involved in the global landmine epidemic by working with schools to educate children about the threat of mines and raising funds to "adopt" a mine detection dog. Ambassador and Mrs. Subasinghe are expected to visit Wyoming with the Enzi's to participate in the fund raising for this project soon. Anthony Lake, former National Security Advisor, noted that a timeline of 30 years or so is "unacceptable and unnecessary." He suggested that donors could help reduce the timeline dramatically, and that while they 'may never know the names or see the faces of those they have helped, they can know that they have made a difference in their lives." Nearly 700 dogs are working reliably and safely in 23 countries today. MLI President Perry Baltimore noted that "a highly trained, explosive- sniffing dog is an extremely valuable & versatile resource in the deminer's toolkit, and is the best detector of landmines in the field today." Brigadier Rohan Jayasinghe, Defence Attaché of the Embassy explained the efforts taken by both the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and the NGOs in this endeavor to rid the affected areas of landmines. Guests included Senator and Mrs. Mike Enzi (R-WY), James Lawrence from the Office of Mine Action Initiatives & Partnerships at the US Department of State, and corporate executives from Campbell Crane & Associates, CHuBB International, DMS - Architectural Services Inc., Limited Brands, Sandler Travis & Rosenberg, Sara Lee Branded Apparel and Shell Oil Company. Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 17 July 2003
A Congressional Delegation led by Congressman Jerry Weller (Republican- Illinois), and comprising Congressman Scott Garrett (Republican-New Jersey) and Mr. Allan Tenille, Legislative Director to Congressman Weller visited Sri Lanka from June 29th to July 3rd 2003. Congressman Jerry Weller who serves on the House of Ways and Means Committee is the Co-chairperson of Sri Lanka Congressional Caucus. Congressman Scott Garret serves on the House Financial and Budget Committees and is a member of the Sri Lankan Caucus. The purpose of the Congressional Delegation was to provide visiting Congressman with an opportunity to witness first hand the efforts of Sri Lanka Government peacefully resolve the ethnic conflict, economic reform programme undertaken by the government and the possibilities of expanded trade and investment with Sri Lanka. Prior to the departure of Congressional Delegation to Sri Lanka Hon. Milinda Moragoda, Minister of Economic Reform Science & Technology briefed members of the delegationand Congressional Caucus on the ongoing peace process and economic reform program undertaken by Sri Lanka at the Inaugural Meeting of Sri Lanka Caucus of 108th Congress held on June 26th 2003 at the Capitol Hill. The delegation called on H.E. the President Chandrika Kumaranatunga Bandaranaike, and had meetings with Hon. Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe, Hon. Professor G.L. Peiris, (Minister of Enterprise Development, Industrial Policy & Investment & Constitutional Affairs), Hon. Ravi Karunanayake (Minister of Commerce & Consumer Affairs), Hon Joseph Michael Perera (Speaker), Hon. Mahinda Rajapakse (Leader of the Opposition) during their stay in Colombo. Congressional delegation also had meetings with a wide cross section of the business community in Sri Lanka including; members of Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association, American Chamber of Commerce, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka. The visiting Congressman also met Sir Arthur C. Clerk at the Arthur C Clerk at the Arther C Clerk Center in Colombo. The Delegation visited a state of art apparel manufacturing factory establish in Sri Lanka by the Mast Industries. The Congressional Delegation had the opportunity to have a glimpse of Sri Lankan cultural heritage during their visit to Sigiriya, and Kandy. US Embassy in Colombo organized a press briefing presided by the Congressman and Representatives from the US Embassy (please see - Statement by Congressman Jerry Weller and Congressman Scott Garrett and their bios - Congressman Jerry Weller and Congressman Scott Garrett) The Charge d'' Affairs of the US Embassy in Colombo hosted them for a reception. The visit of the Congressional delegation to Sri Lanka was sponsored by the Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka. Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 03 July 2003
World Bank increases allocations to Sri Lanka by fifty per cent Minister Milinda Moragoda, Minister of Economic Reform, Science & Technology concluded an official visit to Washington D.C. During his visit, Minister Moragoda met with a number of senior officials of the US Administration, Congressional leaders, Senior Officials of the World Bank and IMF, media personalities, and members of the academic community. U.S. - Sri Lanka Bilateral Discussions Among the senior Administration officials Minister Moragoda met were Ambassador Robert Zoellick, United States Trade Representative, Jim Moriarty, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for South Asian Affairs in the National Security Council, Ms. Christina Rocca, Assistant Secretary for South Asian Affairs of the Department of State. Ambassador Jeffrey Lunstead, U.S. Ambassador Designate to Sri Lanka called on Minister Moragoda for discussions prior to taking up his new assignment in Sri Lanka. The Minister discussed with these US Government officials Post- Tokyo developments involving the peace process and bilateral matters. These discussions included the proposed official visit of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to the U.S. to meet with President George W. Bush later this year. At his meeting with the U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Zoellick, the Minister discussed Sri Lanka’s economic reform process and Sri Lanka –US bilateral trade liberalization. Ambassador Zoellick complimented the leadership of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and the Minister in implementing economic reforms and assured that his office stands ready to support this process and agreed to stay in regular contact. Inauguration of the Sri Lanka Congressional Caucus The Minister also participated in the inaugural meeting of the Sri Lanka Congressional Caucus of the 108th Congress. This meeting was attended by the Co-Chairs, Representative Jerry Weller (Republican – Illinois) and Frank Pallone (Democrat - New Jersey). Representatives Weller and Scott Garrett (Republican –New Jersey) will visit Sri Lanka to discuss trade and business relations. Representative Weller serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee responsible for trade matters. Meetings with IMF and World Bank Officials Minister Moragoda met with Mr. Shengman Zhang, Managing Director of the World Bank and Mr. S. Sugisaki, Deputy Managing Director of the IMF. At these two meetings they discussed the improving economic prospects in Sri Lanka, highlighting the importance of making effective use of the large amount of aid pledges committed by the donor community. Both Mr. Zhang and Mr. Sugisaki commended the Government for its commitment to the peace process and for implementing necessary economic reforms. The Minister indicated that a supportive institutional arrangement will be established to improve aid utilization. Mr. Zhang informed the Minister that considering the significant improvements in the country’s economic prospects, country rating and the resource needs, the allocation of resources to Sri Lanka from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) was increased by 50 per cent from the earlier planned US$200 million per year over the next two years to US$300 million per year. Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the United States, Devinda R. Subasinghe participated in all the meetings with Minister Moragoda. Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 27 June 2003

Reliable U.S. Partner supports Homeland Security and War on Terror

Declaration of Principles relating to implementation of US Container Security Initiative (CSI) by Sri Lanka was signed by Mr. Sarath Jayatilleke (right) Director-General, Sri Lanka Customs and Mr. Douglas Browning, Deputy Commissioner of US Customs and Boarder Protection on 25th June 2003 at the US Embassy in Brussels, Belgium.

Sri Lanka and the United States today signed a Declaration of Principles (DOP) for the U.S. Container Security Initiative (CSI). The document was signed by Sri Lanka’s Customs Director-General, Mr. Sarath Jayathilake and Deputy Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Mr. Douglas M. Browning in Brussels, Belgium at the U.S. Mission to the European Union. The two Customs Chiefs were in Brussels to attend the World Customs Organization Annual Meeting. Present at the signing ceremony was Mr. Romesh Jayasinghe, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union. Devinda R. Subasinghe, Sri Lankan Ambassador to the U.S. said: "I am very pleased that Sri Lanka joined the Container Security Initiative within a short period of time. This demonstrates Sri Lanka’s firm commitment to cooperate with the U.S. in the fight against terrorism and the protection of the homeland. The CSI will facilitate the clearance of exports, safeguard containerized cargo, and the maritime trading system against terrorism." “The Declaration of Principles that we signed today, while marking a milestone in the cooperation between the customs authorities of Sri Lanka and US will strengthen the risk assessment capability of the Colombo Port. It will also help to streamline Port Operations. I therefore welcome this initiative." said Mr. Sarath Jayathilake, Director-General, Sri Lanka Customs. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner Browning concluded by saying: “I applaud the government of Sri Lanka for their strong support in helping to make a safer, more secure world trading system. CSI is essential in securing an indispensable, but vulnerable link in the chain of global trade: containerized shipping.” The CSI was launched by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11. Now within the Department of Homeland Security, the CSI will increase the security of the world's maritime trading system through strengthened customs co-operation at seaports. Under the Declaration of Principles, Sri Lanka Customs and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will exchange information and work closely together to identify and screen high-risk containers bound for the U.S. A small number of CBP officers will be deployed at the Colombo port to work jointly with Sri Lankan counterparts to pre-screen and target high-risk cargo containers. CSI consists of four core elements:
  1. Utilizing intelligence and automated information to identify and target high-risk containers;
  2. Pre-screening containers identified as high-risk, at the port of departure, before they arrive at U.S. ports;
  3. Using detection technology to quickly pre-screen high-risk containers; and
  4. Using smarter, tamper-evident containers. Globally, over 48 million full cargo containers move between major seaports each year.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is continuing to implement CSI at major ports around the world. Most of the top 20 ports identified for the first phase of CSI have agreed to join and are at various stages of implementation. They include (by container cargo volume): Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Kaohsiung, Rotterdam, Pusan, Bremerhaven, Tokyo, Genoa, Yantian, Antwerp, Nagoya, Le Havre, Hamburg, La Spezia, Felixstowe, Algeciras, Kobe, Yokohama. and Laem Chabang. The port of Colombo, which is the busiest harbor in South Asia, will soon join the already operational CSI ports of Rotterdam, LeHavre, Bremerhaven, Hamburg, and Antwerp in Europe, Singapore in Asia, and Vancouver, Montreal, and Halifax in Canada. “This outcome is the result of the Trade and Investment Agreement (TIFA) signed between the U.S. and Sri Lanka during Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe’s meeting with President Bush in July 2002 and the ongoing meeting of the Joint Council. The US is the largest single market for Sri Lanka’s exports (41 percent of all exports), valued at approximately US$ 2 billion” according to Ambassador Subasinghe. The CSI is also important in positioning Sri Lanka as a transportation hub and the gateway to the subcontinent. Sri Lanka is strategically located at a key crossroads in the global trading system with a high potential for detecting items of concern. Approximately 70 percent of the containers handled in Sri Lanka are transshipments. Last year, roughly 157,087 sea cargo containers entered the United States from the port of Colombo. Sri Lanka has already set in motion necessary actions to acquire the required equipment to implement this initiative. A US Customs delegation is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka in August this year to discuss necessary preparatory steps to implement CSI at the Colombo Port. Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 25 June 2003
Ambassador Devinda R. Subasinghe represented Sri Lanka at the BIO 2003 Annual Convention held from 22nd to 25th June 2003 at Washington Convention Center, which was organized by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). BIO represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. "BIO 2003 provided an unique opportunity to determine how Sri Lanka can move forward in developing a biotechnology sector and attracting foreign direct investments" said Ambassador Subasinghe. More than 16,000 participants from 55 countries and 47 states took part in the four-day conference, which included more than 1,000 speakers discussing business development, science and regulatory affairs, global health, bioethics and patient advocacy. The exhibition featured more than 1,000 exhibits. And of the 55 countries represented at BIO 2003, seven countries were attending for the first time, including Sri Lanka, Armenia, the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Malawi and Mauritius. In his, keynote speech by President Bush who emphasized the vital importance that biotechnology plays said that the biotechnology industry is 'advancing knowledge and relieving suffering.' The address of President Bush marked the first time that a U.S. president has ever appeared before a BIO annual conference. In addition to President Bush, several other high-ranking government leaders were present at BIO 2003, including Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Mark B. McClellan, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). Additionally, nine U.S. state governors were in attendance at the conference seeking to attract biotech development to their states. Other high-ranking federal officials spoke at the June 21 - 25 Convention include Tom Ridge, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; Mark B. McClellan, FDA Commissioner; and the directors of the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the National Human Genome Research Institute. The convention featured 199 sessions across 25 tracks of programming, including tracks on policy, business and finance, drug development and regulatory affairs. The event also encompasses a two-day Health Festival on the National Mall, special forums on bio ethics, global health and patient advocacy; a two-day 'Thinking Beyond Tomorrow Lecture Series'; 345,000 square feet of exhibit space etc. Ambassador Subasinghe discussed with officials of the National Institute of Health their support to define the institutional framework necessary to develop the biotechnology sector. Executives from leading biotechnology companies offered their insight in developing this vital knowledge economy sector in Sri Lanka. Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 25 June 2003
Hon. Ravi Karunanayake, Minister Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Hon. Gamini Jayawickrma Perera, Minister of Irrigation and Water Management and Hon. Keheliya Rambukawella, Minister of Science and Technology met Hon. Madam Ann Veneman, Secretary of Agriculture, US Department of Commerce and had discussions on wide ranging bilateral issues during the Conference. Minister Karunanyake expressed his grateful thanks to the Agriculture Secretary for inviting him and his colleagues to attend the Ministerial Conference on Agriculture Science and Technology, which he found very useful in obtaining information on Agricultural Science and Technology, critical for raising sustainable agricultural productivity in developing countries such as Sri Lanka. Hon. Minister briefed Agricultural Secretary on bilateral trade and economic relations between the US and Sri Lanka, in particular on the progress made so far with regard to the TIFA process and said that two Joint Council Meetings had been held within a period of eight months since signing of the TIFA Agreement in July 2002. These meetings had been resulted in confidence building and resolving bilateral trade issues between the countries. The Hon. Minister informed the Secretary that Sri Lanka has removed import restrictions on GM food for which US agricultural Secretary expressed her satisfaction. He also informed Agriculture Secretary that the Joint Council had discussed possible cooperation between the US and Sri Lanka, particularly in Agriculture negotiations in order to work towards successful conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda. The Hon Minister said that Sri Lanka's ultimate objective is to conclude a Free Trade Agreement with the US for promotion of two way trade between the two countries. Hon. Minister informed the Agriculture Secretary that Sri Lanka had been excluded for the first time in 2003, from the countries eligible for obtaining concessionary loan under the PL-480 title 1 program for purchasing wheat in fiscal year 2003. He emphasized the importance of importing wheat under the PL-480 program and requested USDA to continue this program for Sri Lanka. He also expressed Sri Lanka's interest in obtaining dried non-fat milk powder under the PL-416-B programme. Agriculture Secretary agreed to look into possibility of providing continuous allocation of PL-480 title 1 programme to Sri Lanka. Pointing out that the US has a surplus of non-fat milk powder said that the US will be able to provide them under the Food for Progress program. Hon. Minister also expressing Sri Lanka's desire to expand bilateral trade between the two countries said that Sri Lanka is keen to explore the possibility of importing agricultural products such as chicken from the US. Agriculture Secretary welcomed Sri Lanka's interest in importing agricultural commodities from the US to Sri Lanka on commercial basis. Hon. Gamini Jayawickrma Perera, Minister of Irrigation and Water Management and Hon. Keheliya Rambukawella, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology also participated at the discussions. Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 25 June 2003