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* Sri Lanka, U.S. cooperation on an upward trajectory - Under Secretary Shannon
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 10:05 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 09, Washington, DC: The broad range cooperation that exists between the United States and Sri Lanka is on an upward trajectory and the bilateral relationship will continue to grow as Sri Lanka continued its progress, a top ranking U.S. official says.

"The United States commends the steps that Sri Lanka has taken to date toward justice, reconciliation, and accountability. With your continued progress, our bilateral relationship will continue to grow," the Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., Under Secretary for Political Affairs of the U.S. State Department said addressing an event held to mark Sri Lanka's 70th Anniversary of Independence.

Delivering a speech at the United States Institute of Peace on the occasion, Under Secretary Shannon noted that this year will also mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

"Just as the United States is proud to have been among the first nations to recognize an independent Ceylon in 1948, we remain proud to stand with Sri Lanka as a friend and partner today," he said.

He recalled that the Embassy of Ceylon first opened in Washington three years after the conclusion of World War II, at a time when the world desperately needed new measures both to prevent the recurrence of that terrible catastrophic war and to secure future peace and prosperity.

Recalling the significant and powerful role Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, played toward reconciliation between Japan and the Allied forces after World War II, the Under Secretary said Sri Lanka helped to create the basis upon which the Allies concluded a treaty of peace with Japan, and laid the basis on which the United States with Japan have built one of their most important alliances and friendships. "And so we are grateful for diplomacy then, and we are grateful for diplomacy now," he said.

"Today, in much the same spirit, Sri Lanka's leadership has charted a path to postwar justice and reconciliation at home, one that if followed to its conclusion offers the promise of peace, freedom, and prosperity for all of Sri Lanka's people," Under Secretary observed.

Recalling his meetings with the President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe during his visit to Sri Lanka in last November and the meeting with Foreign Secretary Prasad Kariyawasam, a former Sri Lankan ambassador to the U.S., Under Secretary Shannon said each occasion served to reaffirm the broad range of cooperation that already exists between the two countries, whether in law enforcement, counterterrorism, rule of law, demining, entrepreneurship, private sector development, health, transitional justice, or humanitarian assistance.

"This cooperation remains on an upward trajectory," Under Secretary Shannon said highlighting the cooperation between the two countries.

The top U.S. Official said the United States has approved the transfer to Sri Lanka of a Coast Guard Secretary Class cutter. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is initiating a $21 million program to enhance the productivity of Sri Lanka's dairy sector, and the U.S. Peace Corps will return American volunteers to Sri Lanka to teach English. The Millennium Challenge Corporation continues to work toward conclusion of a compact with Sri Lanka.

"This is an impressive list but I see great potential for our two countries to do much more. To work with partners to promote responsible infrastructure development that benefits Sri Lanka. To work together to enhance the shared objectives of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, the importance of which President Trump, Secretary Tillerson, and our National Security Strategy have all underscored."

"We face a bright future, one that is ours to grasp. Even as we look forward, however, we would do well to draw inspiration from Ambassador Corea and our other forebears whose foresight, wisdom, and "heartfelt commitment" to democratic ideals and freedom guided the opening days of our diplomatic relations 70 years ago," Under Secretary Thomas Shannon said.


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