Tuesday, February 7, 2017

U.S. lauds unprecedented level of cooperation with Sri Lanka

Tue, Feb 7, 2017, colombopage.comp

Feb 07, Washington, DC: The United States praised the unprecedented level of cooperation with Sri Lanka today due to the democratic progress Sri Lanka has made and its renewed commitment to reconciliation, accountable government, and freedom of expression.

Acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Ambassador Bruce Wharton said while the level of cooperation today is unprecedented, there is always more progress to be made and the United States will continue to stand with Sri Lanka as a friend and partner.

"The United States will continue to stand with you as your friend and your partner. While our level of cooperation today is unprecedented, there is always more progress to be made."

Ambassador Wharton made these remarks addressing the Sri Lanka National Day Reception held at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington, DC on Monday night.

Recalling that American seafarers sailed to Sri Lanka, then Ceylon as early as 1789 and established formal diplomatic and trade relations in 1850, Ambassador Wharton said today, Sri Lanka with the most strategic maritime locations in the entire Indo-Pacific has the potential to become the next Asian Tiger.

Underscoring that Sri Lanka can harness its ambitious and entrepreneurial population to achieve great things, the U.S. official said the United States is supporting Sri Lanka's small- and medium-sized enterprises, helping to create jobs, promote investment, and improve the business climate.

"And this work isn't just good for Sri Lanka; it's also good for our economy here, because a larger and wealthier Sri Lankan middle class means more customers for U.S. products and services," he pointed out.

The Ambassador said the U.S. government's work with Sri Lanka's economic ministries to promote competitive and transparent procurement, and with Sri Lanka's law enforcement agencies to help root out corruption boosted the efforts for cooperation.

"We also launched the Partnership Dialogue last year, which allows us to cooperate like never before on issues such as governance, human rights, economic development, women's empowerment, clean energy, security, and the environment."

Sri Lanka can become a leader in contributing to peacekeeping operations across the globe, promoting human rights abroad, and ensuring maritime security throughout the region, Ambassador Wharton remarked.

Recalling how Sri Lanka Navy came to the aid of a sailor on the USS Hopper, one of U.S. guided-missile destroyers, needed emergency medical attention when it was over 160 miles from shore and had no air assets available, the Ambassador said the incident showed how quickly the strengthened bonds have paid off, to real benefit.

"As the friendship between our nations continues to grow, I have no doubt there will be many more such stories that show how our relationship helps us pursue not just our common interests in trade and security, but also our common values of democracy and liberty," Acting Under Secretary of State Wharton said.

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