Kerry Hopes to Reset US Relations With Sri Lanka
Posted on April 30th, 2015

Pamela Dockins VOA

A senior U.S. State Department official said Wednesday that Secretary of State John Kerry was traveling to Sri Lanka to show that the U.S. applauds the vision” of that country’s new government.

Kerry will visit Colombo on Saturday as part of a weeklong trip that includes stops in Kenya and Djibouti.  He will be the first secretary of state to visit Sri Lanka since Colin Powell did so in 2004.

In Sri Lanka, Kerry will meet with the country’s new president, Maithripala Sirisena, who took office in January after defeating longtime leader Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sirisena, who quit Rajapaksa’s government to challenge him in elections, vowed to carry out reforms that he said would reverse his predecessor’s autocratic and authoritarian-style government.

Sirisena enacted a 100-day plan” that includes reducing the power of the presidency, expanding human rights and promoting freedom of the press.

At a Wednesday briefing, the senior State Department official said the U.S. foresees having a mutually helpful relationship” with Sri Lanka, a country that could become a beacon” for democracy and human rights.

One problem with the U.S. relationship with Sri Lanka under the country’s former president is that it had become a one-issue relationship,” said Teresita Schaffer, a former U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington policy research group.

The issue was war crimes — human rights,” she said.

In February, the U.N. agreed to a six-month delay in publishing a report on alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka, in order to give the country’s new government an opportunity to cooperate with U.N. investigators.

Rajapaksa’s administration was accused of widespread human rights violations during the final phase of a civil war against Tamil Tiger rebels, who waged a 30-year battle for an independent Tamil state. Investigators estimate that tens of thousands of Tamil civilians were killed shortly before the conflict ended in 2009.

Schaffer said she supported the decision to delay the U.N. report. This had become such a radioactive subject. It had become the greatest way of shutting off the conversation that we wanted to have,” she said.

During his trip, Kerry will meet with members of the Tamil National Alliance, elected officials who represent many of the country’s ethnic Tamils. He also will attend a celebration for the Buddhist holiday of Vesak, a major holiday in Sri Lanka.

Effectively, what Secretary Kerry is doing is making himself part of the process of creating a new kind of relationship with Sri Lanka,” said Schaffer.

A senior State Department official said the U.S. wants to be as helpful as possible” in supporting Sri Lanka’s effort to fulfill its goals of peace and reconciliation.

6 Responses to “Kerry Hopes to Reset US Relations With Sri Lanka”

  1. ranjit Says:

    USA is a curse to all freedom loving countries in the world. They destroyed historical valued countries like Iraq,Libiya,Afganistan,Pakistan,Egypt and now they eying Sri Lanka. You are mistaken my dear Yankee Doodle.Your Sira cannot do anything.He is only a puppet on a string. Dont put your fingers in our affairs just buger off and stay put.

    Majority Sri Lankans do not like your color or the smell so don’t think that we will welcome you in a red carpet maybe our traitors will welcome you not the Sinhalese majority.

    I hope people of this country will put up black flags to protest his visit. Down with USA.

  2. L Perera Says:

    Kerry needs to set an example by addressing the Ethnic conflict that has gone on for centuries in his own country before
    sorting those in the rest of the world.

  3. Kumari Says:

    Probably Kerry’s speech writers must be re-writing his speech. I’d bed the original would have had lot of praise for democracy and hailed the parliament and the people on the special occasion of transferring power to the (pickpocket) PM through the original 19A.

  4. Metteyya_Brahmana Says:

    The US is not able to match China in terms of “no strings attached” economic development in Sri Lanka.

    The US puts up one billion USD for every 7 billion the Chinese put up, and always demands self-serving conditions to the US money that impose a conservative political and economic philosophy (the free market can solve all problems, income equality is a sin, etc.) on the country, whereas China does not.

    This was clear in the recent Chinese visit to Pakistan. The US put up 7 billion over 10 years toward sporadic, ad-hoc development projects, and China put up 46 billion over 10 years which includes a modern Economic Zone, port development, and a railway link from the port to Chinese railroads.

  5. Metteyya_Brahmana Says:

    I forgot to include “imposes material culture as superior to local culture and religious traditions that are non-materialist” as part of the US economic development plan in the countries it targets.

  6. Ratanapala Says:

    He is coming to do a “RESET” in Sri Lanka. Hope he has not forgotten how LTTE – Tiger supporter Hillary Clinton did with Russia and where it has landed US – Russia relations.

    “All things done with bad intentions end up with bad consequences”. This is where US is all around the world. Most unloved nation on Mother Earth. Now they have started to burn from inside! Very soon there will be more Baltimores!!

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