WHITE 3D EMBOSSES CAPITAL LETTERS

The Second Meeting of the Joint Council established under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) will be held in Washington D.C. on March 25th, 2003. This agreement signed during Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to the White House in July, 2002, provides a framework to discuss bi-lateral and multi-lateral issues relating to Sri Lanka and the US. The Sri Lanka delegation for the talks will be co-chaired by Prof. G.L.Peiris, Minister of Enterprise Development, Industrial Policy, Investment Promotion & Constitutional Affairs and Ravi Karunanayake, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, while Ambassador Jon Hunstman, US Deputy Trade Representative will lead the US delegation. Business leaders representing the apparel, information and communication technology sectors will accompany the delegation. Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the U.S. Devinda R. Subasinghe has said, “the forthcoming meeting will review the progress made in the recently concluded 6th session of the Sri Lanka Peace Talks, as well as the status of trade and investment relations between Sri Lanka and the US and explore proposals for increased trade and foreign investment.” The meeting will also discuss “modalities to ensure a successful outcome of the WTO’s ‘Doha Development Agenda’.” Attending the first meeting of the Joint Council in Colombo in November 2002, US Deputy Trade Representative, Jon M. Huntsman had noted that the TIFA arrangement is the cornerstone in the trade and economic relations between the two countries and that the US had signed such agreements with select countries and the choice of Sri Lanka from the South Asian region for a TIFA, shows the significance the US attached to Sri Lanka as a business partner. Trade between the two countries currently stands at approximately 2.5 billion dollars and heavily favors Sri Lanka. Apparel accounts for more than three quarters of Sri Lanka's exports to the US while imports from the US includes wheat, electrical machinery and mechanical machinery. US Investment in Sri Lanka is approximately $500 million. During their visit the two Ministers will meet with US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and US Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca. At the US Chamber of Commerce, they will also participate in an Investment Roundtable titled “ Sri Lanka; The Gateway to South Asia” and also meet with Trade Association leaders. Minister Peiris who will be arriving in Washington D.C., after having led the Sri Lanka Government delegation to the 6th session of the Sri Lanka Peace Talks with the LTTE in Hakone, Japan, will also address diplomats, US government officials, World Bank and IMF representatives, congressional staffers, academics and NGO representatives, at an event hosted by the US Institute of Peace (USIP) and Chaired by Dr. Chester Crocker, Chairman of the USIP Board. Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 21 March 2003
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Ms Christina Rocca on Thursday praised the commitment shown in moving forward the Sri Lanka peace process and said the Sri Lanka government and the LTTE "have made significant progress toward a political solution that protects the dignity and security of all Sri Lankans and preserves that country's unity". She added that the LTTE had 'renounced Tamil Eelam" but that they would need to "renounce violence in word and deed" in order to be removed from the US list of proscribed terrorist organisations. She noted that the organization was still acquiring weapons. She re-iterated that the US was committed to helping the Government of Sri Lanka achieve a peace settlement not only for the benefit of Sri Lanka, but also to show that peace can be achieved through negotiations. Assistant Secretary Rocca made these observations when she testified at a hearing of the House of Representatives International Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, held on March 20th, 2003. This was in response to a question by Representative Brad Sherman ( Democrat- California), who asked whether "as peace takes hold" there was a possibility that the LTTE would be removed from the list of proscribed terrorist organizations, in particular, whether the "prior behavior" would become an issue. The hearing on "The US and South Asia: Challenges and Opportunities for American Policy" was chaired by Representative James A. Leach (Republican-Iowa), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. Chairman Leach in his opening statement referred to South Asia as a region that has "sharply risen in prominence for American policymakers in the aftermath of the events of September 11" and stated that "although South Asia remains one of the most volatile regions, the United States can point to a number of diplomatic achievements in recent years." Commenting on Sri Lanka, Chairman Leach observed that " in Sri Lanka, Deputy Secretary of State Armitage has been personally engaged in lending US support to the on-going cease-fire and hopeful peace process". Responding to a question posed by the Chairman of the Sub-committee, on whether the Peace Corps would return to Sri Lanka, Ms Rocca replied that a security assessment team from the Peace Corps had already returned from an initial visit to Sri Lanka. Assistant Administrator of the USAID's Bureau for Asia and the Near East Wendy J. Chamberlin, who also testified before the sub-committee described Sri Lanka as " a success story", and "a clearly defined example of putting the Administration's policies of accountable foreign aid to work in the region". Noting that "until last year, Sri Lanka was on the road to becoming a non-presence post," she said, "we have reversed those staffing decisions and requested additional resources in the financial year 2004 in recognition that, at least, they are on the right track". She pointed out that "USAID's humanitarian assistance and longer-term economic reforms are designed to ensure the 'peace dividend' is distributed equitably among the peoples of Sri Lanka." US economic aid to Sri Lanka has increased from $3.69 million in 2001 to $19.5 million requested for 2004. Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 21 March 2003
U.S. President George W. Bush has said, "The United States has been following the peace process in Sri Lanka with great interest" and that "living in trying times, Sri Lanka stands out as an island of optimism in this troubled world." These observations were made by President Bush at the formal credential presentation ceremony of Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the US, Devinda R. Subasinghe, which was held in the Oval Office of the White House, on Wednesday (26th February, 2003) afternoon. Earlier at his meeting with the U.S.President, Ambassador Subasinghe thanked President Bush for the steadfast support given to Sri Lanka, as the country was striving to resolve its problems through peaceful means. The President assured the Ambassador that the United States will continue to support Sri Lanka as a friend. In formal statements that were exchanged, President Bush, noting that "sadly, both of our countries have experienced terrorism first-hand", said "The United States appreciates Sri Lanka's encouraging stance on the war against terror and its supportive posture in the current crisis on Iraq." "America will continue to count on your support in the days ahead," the President said. "We both know it takes courage and determination to fight a war. As the peace process in Sri Lanka reaches a stage where difficult issues have to be addressed and real compromises have to be made, it becomes clear that it takes no less courage and no less determination to pursue peace. Let me assure you that the United States wholeheartedly supports Sri Lanka's efforts to transform violence and bloodshed into peace." Appreciating that Sri Lanka faces difficult challenges ahead, President Bush said, " reconstruction and reintegration after 20 years of civil war will not be accomplished easily or without cost. Sri Lanka has a history of democracy and a resiliency in its economy that will lend strength to your endeavors. In addition, Sri Lanka has the good will of the international community. The United States is increasing its economic assistance in support of the peace process, and is encouraging other nations to do the same." President Bush added that, "Sri Lanka has enormous economic potential, which has been impeded by war. Now, with peace on the horizon, with bold economic reforms being put in place, and with a literate society and an educated workforce, Sri Lanka stands on the threshold of prosperity." In his statement, Ambassador Subasinghe observed that "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. Sri Lanka's economic development strategy as envisioned and articulated under the title 'Regaining Sri Lanka', focused 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 the continuing conflict." The Ambassador noted that "the United States continues to be the major trading partner of Sri Lanka accounting for 41% of Sri Lanka's total exports. Foreign direct investment from the US has steadily increased with an estimated investment of US$ 500 million. For decades Sri Lanka has been a recipient of development assistance from the U.S. Educational and training opportunities for Sri Lankans in the US has considerably contributed to Sri Lanka's growth and development. In more recent years, the two countries have also developed a beneficial relationship in military and security cooperation." Ambassador Subasinghe said during his tenure he would "endeavor to build upon the vast fund of goodwill and understanding which exists between the two countries and to further develop the longstanding relationship, so as to promote the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to regain peace and prosperity for the people of Sri Lanka." President Bush expressed the hope that "Ambassador Subasinghe's tenure in Washington will be marked by increasing ties between the US and Sri Lanka, in trade and commerce, as well as in human and cultural exchanges." Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 26 February 2003
Mr. Ambassador, I am pleased to accept your letter of Credence from President Kumaratunga, which establishes you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, and I acknowledge the Letter of Recall of your predecessor. Thank you for your greetings on behalf of your President. The United States has been following the peace process in your country with great interest. We are living in trying times, but Sri Lanka stands out as an island of optimism in this troubled world. Sadly, both of our countries have experienced terrorism first-hand. The United States appreciates Sri Lanka's encouraging stance on the war against terror and its supportive posture in the current crisis on Iraq. America will continue to count on your support in the days ahead. We both know it takes courage and determination to fight a war. As the peace process in Sri Lanka reaches a stage where difficult issues have to be addressed and real compromises have to be made, it becomes clear that it takes no less courage and no less determination to pursue peace. Let me assure you that the United States wholeheartedly supports Sri Lanka's efforts to transform violence and bloodshed into peace. Your country faces difficult challenges ahead. Reconstruction and reintegration after 20 years of civil war will not be accomplished easily or without cost. Sri Lanka has a history of democracy and a resiliency in its economy that will lend strength to your endeavors. In addition, Sri Lanka has the good will of the international community. The United States is increasing its economic assistance in support of the peace process, and is encouraging other nations to do the same. Sri Lanka has enormous economic potential, which has been impeded by war. Now, with peace on the horizon, with b old economic reforms being put in place, and with a literate society and an educated workforce, Sri Lanka stands on the threshold of prosperity. I welcome you to Washington as Sri Lanka's Ambassador, and I am confident your tenure in Washington will be marked by increasing ties between our two countries in trade and commerce as well as in human and cultural exchanges. Let me assure you the United States will support Sri Lanka as a friend.
Mr. President, It is my honor and privilege to present to you, the Letter of Credence accrediting me as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the United States of America. I do so with particular pride, having studied and worked in the United States over the past 25 years. I bring to you Mr. President and to the people of the United States of America warm personal greetings and good wishes of my President Her Excellency Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, the Hon. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, and those of the people of Sri Lanka. I also have the honor to hand over the Letter of Recall of my predecessor. Although formal diplomatic relations between our two countries was established only in 1948, contacts between the peoples of the United States of America and Sri Lanka are nearly 200 years old .While New England missionaries, merchants and other individual Americans left their mark on Sri Lanka in the 19th century, consular and commercial relations between the United States and the then British Colony have prospered since the turn of that century. With Sri Lanka regaining Independence in 1948, our relationship has been placed on a more enduring footing. The people to people interaction between the two countries, each proud of their respective histories as representative democracies has evolved through the years, expanding on the basis of many common values. Following the liberalization of Sri Lanka's economy in the late 1970s, trade and investment links between the two countries have gradually increased and strengthened to their present status. The United States 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. 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 considerably contributed to the growth and development of my country. In more recent years, our two countries have also developed a beneficial relationship in military and security cooperation. The United States faces some of the same security challenges that countries such as Sri Lanka face. No event in recent times brought home this truism, as did the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. on September 11th, 2001. Having experienced acts of terror over the past two decades, we in Sri Lanka, grieved with the people of the United States at the loss of innocent lives of nationals of many states, belonging to many faiths. In Sri Lanka we have sought to convert our grief and sympathy into resolve on two fronts. Internationally, we continue to support the global fight against international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. In this context, Sri Lanka has consolidated its partnership with the United States and the international community to winning the war against terrorism and in meeting emerging transnational challenges. Nationally, the Government of Sri Lanka has sought to transfer the solution of the ethnic conflict and related issues from the battle field to the negotiating table, with the facilitation of the Norwegian Government. The steadfast support extended by the United States Government in this endeavor is deeply appreciated. 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. It is particularly noteworthy that in less than three rounds of negotiations, the parties agreed to explore a political solution to Sri Lanka's long standing ethnic problem based on a federal structure within a united, democratic and multi-ethnic Sri Lanka. The focus at present is on the humanitarian aspects of the conflict situation. Following the recent "peace support meeting" held in Oslo, the international community has pledged to contribute to a fund for the rehabilitation of the North and East, administered by the World Bank. We are confident that the United States Government which has already contributed to this process would continue to do so significantly. Sri Lanka, in seeking to resolve what was until recently considered an intractable problem by negotiation rather than by force, provides a potential model of conflict resolution. 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. This program of economic reform includes modernization and improving productivity through the development of human resources, information communication technology and free trade. I shall endeavor during my tenure of office to build upon the vast fund of goodwill and understanding which exists between our two countries and to further develop our longstanding relationship, so as to promote the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to regain peace and prosperity for the people of Sri Lanka. *

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