WHITE 3D EMBOSSES CAPITAL LETTERS

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, visited the United States from 20th July to 25th July 2002. He was accompanied by Mr. Milinda Moragoda, Minister of Economic Reform, Science and Technology and by senior officials. 2. The Prime Minister called on President Bush at the White House. The Prime Minister briefed the President on the progress of the peace process in Sri Lanka and economic developments in the country. The President expressed his appreciation for Sri Lanka's strong democratic tradition. He particularly welcomed the Prime Minister's initiative, supported by the Norwegian Government, to bring the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to the negotiating table. The President acknowledged the courage and leadership qualities displayed by the Prime Minister in his pursuit of peace and his efforts at economic reconstruction. The President offered American support for these endeavours and proposed to send several US teams to Sri Lanka to assess how best Sri Lanka and the United States could work together in these areas. The Prime Minister thanked the President for the support extended by the United States at this critical time in Sri Lanka's development. They discussed regional and international issues, in particular the global campaign against terrorism. 3. The Prime Minister met with Secretary of State Colin Powell and briefed him also on the peace process stressing the importance of the economic dimension. The Secretary of State indicated that the United States would consider all possible assistance once the assessment teams visited Sri Lanka and reported back to the Administration. These teams are expected to visit Sri Lanka in the near future. A brief review of regional and international developments took place during the talks. 4. In his discussion with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, the Prime Minister indicated that the economic policies of the Government were central to the success of the peace process. She stressed the importance of ensuring the observations of human rights in the process and welcomed the steps taken by the Sri Lanka Government in this respect. 5. Discussions were also held with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage who indicated that he was planning to visit Sri Lanka shortly. 6. The Prime Minister met US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, to discuss measures to strengthen economic and commercial ties with the United States. He was briefed on the economic reforms being effected by the Sri Lanka Government. 7. In the presence of the Prime Minister, the US Trade Representative and Minister Moragoda signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The Agreement is designed to foster a conducive environment for international trade, investments and economic cooperation. The Treaty provides for the establishment of a US-Sri Lanka Joint Council on Trade and Investment. This is a consultative mechanism to facilitate the adoption of measures for the exchange of goods and services and to ensure favourable conditions for the development and diversification of trade between two countries. The Council will be responsible for monitoring bilateral trade and investment relations and identifying opportunities to expand them. 8. The Prime Minister used the opportunity of his visit to Washington to brief the House Committee on International Relations on political and economic developments in Sri Lanka, at a meeting chaired by Congressman Henry Hyde. 9. At a meeting chaired by Senator Richard Lugar, discussions took place with members of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on the progress of the peace process, the recovery programme and the economic reforms being pursued in the country. 10. Sri Lanka's performance under the Stand-by Arrangements and possibility of gaining access to the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility was considered at a meeting with Mr. Horst Kohler, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. 11. At the World Bank, the Prime Minister reviewed with the Bank's President Mr. James Wolfensohn, measures of liberalization taken by Sri Lanka in the economic field the increased role of the private sector, the support and assistance programmes of the Bank and support for the use of IT development. 12. At the US Treasury, the Sri Lanka delegation discussed factors relating to Sri Lanka's development programmes. Discussions were also held during the visit to finalise the text of the US-Sri Lanka Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation which is expected to be signed shortly. 13. Official level discussions were also held with the Deputy General Counsel of the US Department of the Treasury, on further measures for enhancing cooperation to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 and connected resolutions in order to counter terrorist fund raising, in the context of the global response to terrorism. 14. During his visit, the Prime Minister made a presentation on the theme "Challenge and Trial in Sri Lanka: Terrorism and Peace" at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (The full text of the speech is available). The Prime Minister also briefed the media at the National Press Club in Washington. 15. A Roundtable Interaction at the Heritage Foundation was held with a selected group of professionals, Congressional staffers and academics. 16. Following discussions with Mr Gaddi Vasquez, Director, National Peace Corps, it was decided that an assessment team from the Peace Corps would be visiting Sri Lanka with a view to recommencing its programmes in the country. 17. The Prime Minister also held meetings with Senator John Mc Cain and Senator Hilary Clinton. 18. During the Prime Ministerial visit, official level discussions were also held at the US Justice Department, on the convening of early negotiations on a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), to enhance the existing levels of judicial cooperation between the two countries. The conclusion of such a treaty is viewed as an important step in strengthening national mechanisms to prosecute and punish serious international crimes. 19. The question of consulting with each other on human rights issues was also discussed with State Department officials. Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 25 July 2002