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* Sri Lanka never refused visa to US official - External Affairs Ministry
Thu, Feb 6, 2014, 10:47 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 06, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Ministry of External Affairs said that the United States Ambassador -at-large for Global Women's Issues was never denied the visa to enter the country as the US Embassy in Colombo has said.

Issuing a statement the External Affairs Ministry clarified that the US official was not denied the visa but on the contrary the Embassy was informed that the proposed dates of her visit were not convenient.

The Ministry said External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris twice informed the Embassy that the visit needs to be rescheduled.

The Ministry said rescheduling a visit does not amount to refusal of entry and the position was fully and clearly explained to the US Embassy.

Full text of the statement issued by the Sri Lanka's Ministry of External Affairs is as follows:

The Ministry of External Affairs wishes to refer to some media reports sourcing a spokesman of the Embassy of the United States in Colombo, regretting that Sri Lanka had refused a visa for Catherine M. Russell, the United States Ambassador -at-large for Global Women's Issues, to visit the country.

This is not a correct representation of the facts by the US Embassy in Colombo as in no instance has a visa been refused to Ambassador Russell. On the contrary, the relevant US authorities had been advised by the Ministry of External Affairs, that following consultations with the relevant agencies, the dates proposed for the visit were not convenient.

In fact, External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris on two occasions conveyed to the US Ambassador this inconvenience and that the visit needed to be rescheduled. Accordingly, she undertook to inform the US authorities in this regard. Rescheduling of a visit does not amount to refusal of a visa. The position was fully and clearly explained to the US Embassy.

It may be recalled that in recent weeks, the Government of Sri Lanka has facilitated the visits of two senior US officials to Sri Lanka namely, Stephen J. Rapp, Ambassador-at-large for Global Criminal Justice and Nisha Desai Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs in the Department of State.

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