Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena met yesterday the visiting US Congressional delegation, comprising Ami Bera, MD, Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Non-Proliferation and Representative George E.B. Holding, Member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Budget Committee and Ethics Committee and two members of the Congressional Committee Staff.
Minister Gunawardena welcomed the US Congress Representatives and highlighted the need to move forward in new areas of cooperation that would boost Sri Lanka’s economy. He said the visit took place at a significant time to Sri Lanka and briefed the delegation on the initiatives taken to broadbase Sri Lanka’s relationship with the US in ICT, Science, Technology and innovation and agriculture sectors through sector-focused dialogues, with representatives of the specific sectors from both sides.
The two Representatives of the Congress articulated the strong desire of the Government of the United States of America to advance the multifaceted relationship with Sri Lanka as an important strategic partner of the USA. Noting the importance of enhancing the economic cooperation between the two countries, Representative Bera and Representative Holding, expressed the willingness of the US side to increase Foreign Direct Investment in both countries. Recognising Sri Lanka’s strategic geographic position in the world map, they also emphasised the importance of enhancing maritime cooperation with the island.
The Minister availed of the opportunity of meeting the Congressional delegation to reiterate strong objections of the Government of Sri Lanka on the recent imposition of travel restrictions on Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, Commander of the Army and Actg. Chief of Defence Staff and his immediate family and asked that the United States review its decision. He emphasised the importance of continuing defence cooperation, and observed the need to overcome such hindrances without causing embarrassment to either party.
The delegation took note of the concerns and informed that they would convey these sentiments to the US Congress.
The Congress Delegation was joined at the discussions by US Ambassador Alaina Teplitz and Embassy officials. Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha and Director General/ North America, Dharshana M. Perera, and officials of the Ministry, were associated with the Minister during the talks.
The delegation had called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris during their stay in Sri Lanka.
The delegation was hosted to lunch by Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha prior to their departure today, which was attended by leading Sri Lankan business personalities and Heads of economic-related government institutions.
(Ministry of Foreign Relations)