US Assistant Secretary of States for South and Central Asia Nisha Biswal met External Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera today at the Foreign Ministry and held talks.US Assistant Secretary for Human Rights Tom Malinowsky, Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakse was also present.
Addressing a media conference in Colombo after concluding discussions with the US delegation, Samaraveera said he told visiting American diplomats about steps the Sri Lankan government is taking to address concerns regarding alleged human rights violations including through independent domestic mechanisms.
The full text of his statement is as follows:
I have just concluded discussions with Ms. Nisha Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia and Mr. Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour of the US State Department. I also welcomed Ambassador Atul Keshap who just assumed duties as the United States’ Ambassador to Sri Lanka.
We have continued the dialogue that began following the election of President Sirisena in January and my appointment as Foreign Minister.
During our previous meetings and following to my visit to Washington, we agreed to rebuild our multifaceted bilateral relationship.
Several new areas of cooperation were identified during the very successful visit of Secretary Kerry to Colombo in May this year. Our discussions today focused on follow-up on those understandings and on working towards even closer and tangible links.
We discussed steps being taken by the Government of President Maithripala Sirisena to promote reconciliation and to strengthening the rule of law as part of our Government’s overall objective of ensuring good governance, respect for human rights and strengthening our economy.
In keeping with the specific pledge in President Maithripala Sirisena’s Manifesto, and now that we have achieved political stability through one of the most free and fair elections held in this country, I outlined measures being taken to address concerns regarding alleged human rights violations including through independent domestic mechanisms.
We have agreed on prioritizing closer economic cooperation. The United States is Sri Lanka’s single largest export market. 23% of our total exports enter the US market. We want to enhance our trade and business relations and to encourage more US investors to take advantage of the economic opportunities in Sri Lanka.
We look forward to regular high level interactions at all levels reflecting the current US – Sri Lanka relationship.
Later today, Assistant Secretary Biswal will call on President Sirisena and on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
I wish Assistant Secretary Biswal and Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Tom Malinowski and the delegation a very pleasant stay in Sri Lanka.