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* US encourages Sri Lanka government to take concrete meaningful steps to address concerns
Sat, Jul 5, 2014, 11:37 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

July 05, Colombo: The United States values its friendship with Sri Lanka and shares a positive vision for a unified, prosperous ‎country, the U.S. envoy in Colombo, Ambassador Michel Sison said yesterday.

Speaking at a reception held to celebrate the U.S. Independence Day on July 4th, Ambassador Sison said the U.S. engagement with Sri Lanka, whether focused on civic awareness, education, economic growth, or cultural preservation, continues to be robust and multi-faceted.

"We thus continue to encourage the Government of Sri Lanka to take meaningful, concrete steps to address outstanding concerns related to democratic governance, reconciliation, justice, and accountability," the Ambassador emphasized.

She said the United States stands ready to assist Sri Lanka in facilitating progress on these issues.

Speaking of the projects the U.S. has supported through the USAID, Ambassador Sison said the since Sri Lanka's independence, the U.S. has worked through USAID to provide over 2 billion dollars in assistance to the Sri Lankan people.

Her remarks on USAID assistance come after local media reported that the Ambassador has been called to the External Affairs Ministry over a USAID project called 'Election Support through Voter Education' which according to the Sri Lankan government is an "attempt to undermine the Government of the host country".

Ambassador Sison said the USAID livelihoods projects and partnerships with the private sector have secured economic opportunities by creating thousands of jobs. These efforts are especially focused on vulnerable populations, in particular those households headed by women.

USAID also supports the Bar Association of Sri Lanka and Legal Aid Commission to help ensure that all Sri Lankans have greater access to justice. In addition, the U.S. continues to provide support for the Sri Lankan people through humanitarian demining in the former conflict zones and through community reconciliation efforts.

"Working together, we are building the future of the U.S. - Sri Lanka partnership," the Ambassador said.

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