|STATEMENT OF AMBASSADOR OF SRI
LANKA TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - MR. DEVINDA R. SUBASINGHE
AT THE PRESENTATION OF CREDENTIALS TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
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
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. *