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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. *