US committed to stronger ties with Sri Lanka

Thomas Shannon

The United States is committed to staying with Sri Lanka through its period of reconciliation and reform, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon said Monday evening.

He was addressing media in a joint statement with Foreign Ministry Secretary Prasad Kariyawasam, following the second official US-Sri Lanka partnership dialogue. Secretary Kariyawasam said they had also met informally in New York in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

“The heightened level of interaction between our two countries … is indeed heartening,” Kariyawasm said. He said that relationship “intensified” after the 2015 elections. “I commend Sri Lanka on its courageous decision to commit to a process of reform that promotes greater equality and prosperity for all Sri Lankans regardless of ethnicity or religion,” Ambassador Shannon said.

Shannon announced a variety of new changes in policy towards Sri Lanka, such as working to reestablish the US Peace Corps to teach English in the country.

He also said the US Department of Agriculture would award $21 million to strengthen Sri Lanka’s dairy sector, and the US Coast Guard would offer a second cutter to the Sri Lankan Navy as a “sign of strong bilateral ties.”

Shannon said that although he “commended positive steps” towards a new constitution, reconciliation, and accountability, “we always want these things to go faster.” “The whole world is watching Sri Lanka,” he said. “We all want a fast pace (towards reform), and nobody wants it more than the Sri Lankan people.” 

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