Thursday, June 1, 2023

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US Under Secretary assures fresh support for Sri Lanka

The Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland assured fresh support for Sri Lanka when she held discussions with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday.

The President briefed Nuland on the issues raised at the All-Party Conference this morning, its progress, and the discussion to be held with the Tamil National Alliance on Friday.

Appreciating these efforts, the Under Secretary pointed out the importance of holding talks with the Diaspora in Canada, the United States, and European countries. President Rajapaksa said that he was keen to hold discussions with the Diaspora and invited them to invest in the development process of the Northern Province.

Nuland said that steps will be taken to introduce American green technology to Sri Lanka and to support the development of the cyber and information technology sectors. Focusing on educational facilities in the country, the Under Secretary pointed out that higher education opportunities could be expanded with the participation of the private sector.

President Rajapaksa said the decision to go to the International Monetary Fund was taken to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and various developments taking place in other countries, on Sri Lanka’s economy.

Nuland praised this decision, as well as the steps taken towards a truth-seeking mechanism and the amendments of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The President requested the delegation to assist in expanding the capacity for power generation through renewable energy sources.

While saying that it is a courageous step by the Sri Lankan Government to reach out to the International Monetary Fund, US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland underscored that the US is encouraging Provincial Council elections in Sri Lanka.

Nuland made these remarks speaking to media following a meeting held with Minister of Foreign Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris in Colombo yesterday (24).

She also commended Foreign Minister G.L Peiris and his partnership with Justice Minister in moving forward on all of the issues of national healing and justice.

“We come at a particularly difficult and pivotal moment for Sri Lanka and you are a vital partner of the United States and at a key crossroads in the Indo-Pacific and we are eager to support you at this critical moment.” she added.

Sri Lanka and the US convened the Fourth Sri Lanka – U.S. Partnership Dialogue on 23 March, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, renewing their shared commitment to economic prosperity, sustainable development, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

The meeting was co-chaired by Foreign Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris and U.S. Department of State Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland.

Both delegations reaffirmed their commitment to the bilateral relationship, firmly rooted in shared values as fellow democracies, and their intent to work together to further strengthen the partnership.

Sri Lanka expressed its deep appreciation to the US for the donation, in partnership with COVAX, of 3.4 million vaccines, and the provision of over $ 18 million in health equipment and other relief to address the COVID-19 pandemic in the past year.

Acknowledging that the US is already the largest market for Sri Lankan exports, both delegations reiterated their intent to explore new opportunities to enhance market access, bilateral trade, investment, and tourism.

The US expressed its commitment to enhancing opportunities for the economic empowerment of women.

To that end, Sri Lanka welcomed the role of the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), which has increased its portfolio to $ 265 million in loans designed to support Sri Lanka’s small and medium enterprises, particularly women-owned businesses

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