January 28, 2019
Ayubowan. Vanakkam. Asalam alaikum. Good morning. It is a pleasure to join you here. I appreciate being invited to offer a word of encouragement and support at the National Inter Religious Symposium.
In the United States, as Dr. Perera said, we celebrate our differences in our communities. We have many different ethnic groups, racial groups, social groups, and religious groups. Even though we recognize and celebrate these differences, we are also all very committed to our shared American heritage and our shared American identity. We believe this makes us stronger as a nation and believe that it is a value that is a universal human right and can make other nations strong as well. So I am pleased to be able to support you in holding this very important event to pursue a dialogue about pluralism in Sri Lanka.
The United States government in fact has worked with Sri Lanka to advance its development goals for more than 60 years, providing assistance to improve the lives of Sri Lankans across the country, Sri Lankans of every group, of every race, of every religion.
In fact, just through our development agency alone, we’ve invested more than $2 billion over that period.
In particular, we have worked very closely with the National Peace Council for many years, and we appreciate the strong partnership. The National Peace Council’s efforts to bring together multi-religious and multi-ethnic communities are vital for building understanding and tolerance and to achieving the peaceful and prosperous future that all of us here hope for, and all of us out there in the wider community I think also aspire to.
And each of you, led by your respective beliefs, has found common ground, common solutions and positive narratives, and you have greatly been taking positive action and working to generate very positive change. As role models for others, I believe your successes encourage people to reflect on their own beliefs and their own actions and their own values, and that this will hopefully lead to an even more peaceful and inclusive Sri Lanka in the future and help stand as a global model for reconciliation.
This is why the work that you’re presenting today is so important. I think it’s because it’s not just about today, it is about the future.
So let me say thank you for developing the pluralism charter and for your other work in your communities. This offers a guide I think for the government and the people of Sri Lanka to ensure their success, tolerance, and understanding for each and every community and each and every community member.
I look forward to seeing your shared vision of Sri Lanka realized and let me convey best wishes in support of your endeavors from the people of the United States.