SRI LANKAN CHIEF OF DEFENCE STAFF DEPARTS UNITED STATES, AMBASSADOR THANKS U.S. DEPARTMENTS OF STATE AND HOMELAND SECURITY FOR ASSISTANCE AND UNDERSTANDING
Posted on November 5th, 2009

Media Release -Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON “”…” Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States, Jaliya Wickramasuriya, expressed gratitude to the US government Wednesday for consultations that allowed General Sarath Fonsaka, Chief of Defense Staff, to forego an interview with the US Department of Homeland Security.

General Fonseka left the United States for Colombo Tuesday night.(November 03, 2009) He did not take part in questioning prior to his departure by the Department of Homeland Security or any other agency of the US Government.

“I want to personally thank the State Department and Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Ambassador in Sri Lanka, for their cooperation in this matter,” Ambassador Wickramasuriya said.

Last week General Fonseka, who was then in the United States, received a phone call from an official of the Department of Homeland Security requesting an interview. Subsequently he received a letter from the department requesting that he present himself for the interview on the 4th of November in Oklahoma City, Okla.

This development was then conveyed to Ambassador Wickramasuriya. Afterward, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in his capacity as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and the Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the senior most official of that Ministry, made it clear that the President and the Government of Sri Lanka would stand firmly behind the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff of Sri Lanka. There would be no room allowed for that high post to be devalued or made vulnerable, the Foreign Ministry noted in a statement.

Accordingly, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama immediately invited US Ambassador in Colombo to see him. During the meeting, he noted that any information General Fonseka may have become aware of during his service with the Government of Sri Lanka and in the course of his duties is privileged.

The US Department of Homeland Security was therefore asked to desist from any endeavour to interview General Fonseka. A similar representation was made to the US State Department through Ambassador Wickramasuriya.

These representations in both Colombo and Washington were followed by further diplomatic contacts to emphasize the position of the Government of Sri Lanka. The US State Department then assisted in General Fonseka’s departure Tuesday (November 03, 2009).

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