The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington D.C. marked the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and the United States of America with a grand reception featuring cultural performances and esteemed guests. The event took place on September 27, with the Chief Guest being M.U.M. Ali Sabry, the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka. The occasion was hosted by Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the United States, Mahinda Samarasinghe.
The event welcomed a distinguished gathering, including special invitees from various U.S. government departments such as the White House, Departments of State, Defense, Treasury, and Commerce. Representatives from the IMF/World Bank, members of the diplomatic corps, and members of the Sri Lankan community, represented by several associations from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, were also in attendance.
Ambassador Samarasinghe, in his opening remarks, highlighted the long-standing relationship between the U.S.A. and Sri Lanka, tracing its history back to before Sri Lanka’s independence in 1948. He expressed optimism about the future, hoping for the relationship to strengthen further in the coming decades.
Clinton D. White, Counsellor of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), shared insights into the history of development cooperation between Sri Lanka and USAID, dating back to 1956. He emphasized the areas in which USAID is actively involved in Sri Lanka and expressed the intention to enhance cooperation to help the country overcome its current economic challenges.
Ambassador Donald Lu, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, representing the U.S. Department of State, highlighted the role of young people in both societies in fostering better understanding and goodwill for future bilateral relations.
Guest of Honour Chris Van Hollen, United States Senator for Maryland and Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke about his personal connections to Sri Lanka and praised the contributions of Sri Lankan Americans to the United States. He looked forward to the continued growth of the multi-dimensional relations.
Foreign Minister M.U.M. Ali Sabry delivered the keynote speech, expressing gratitude for the support provided by various U.S. government agencies to Sri Lanka. He noted that 2023 also marked the 75th Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s independence from colonial rule and outlined national priorities, including economic recovery and reconciliation, where the United States has made significant contributions over the years.
The event featured captivating cultural performances that showcased the rich cultural diversity of Sri Lanka. It was led by renowned Sri Lankan artiste Jananath Warakagoda and his team, with performances by the Natamu School of Traditional Sri Lankan Dance, Serendib Dance, and dancer Achila Perera.
The Sri Lankan Embassy expressed its gratitude to sponsors, including the Joint Apparel Association Forum Sri Lanka (JAAFSL), for their support in organizing the event and producing a commemorative souvenir. Basilur Tea provided attractive gift packs to the attendees. The year 2023 has seen numerous events celebrating the special friendship between Sri Lanka and the United States, and the Embassy was able to organize these events without government funding, thanks to the generosity of various individuals and organizations, including Sri Lankan Americans.