SPEECH BY HON. LAL D GAMAGE, MINISTER ASSISTING FOREIGN AFFAIRS AT THE INTERNATIONAL DONOR CONFERENCE FOR THE RECONSTRUCTION OF IRAQ - MADRID
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.