December 18, 2015
Counselor of the U.S. Department of State Tom Shannon departed Sri Lanka early yesterday, concluding a three-day visit highlighted by his announcement of the first U.S.-Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue that will take place in February 2016 in Washington, D.C. During his visit, Ambassador Shannon met with, among others, President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and visited Trincomalee with Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan and the Eastern Province Governor, Austin Fernando. In meetings with government officials, civil society activists, economic leaders, and youth, Ambassador Shannon emphasized the United States is proud to be a partner and ally of Sri Lanka.
“The United States will assist reconciliation and broader transitional efforts at the household level, community level, and national levels” Ambassador Shannon told press at a joint briefing with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera. “Sri Lanka’s contributions to the development of a regional consciousness – one that promotes the values of democratic governance and respect for human rights, freedom of navigation, sustainable development, and environmental stewardship are noteworthy.”
In Trincomalee, Ambassador Shannon toured U.S. government assisted projects and ensured continued support to the communities in the East, currently worth more than 3.2 billion Sri Lankan rupees ($23 million). He visited the Koneswaram Temple in Trincomalee and said “I was struck by the power and resilience of faith that showed the ability of the Sri Lankan people to overcome so many years of conflict.”
Ambassador Shannon delivered a policy speech at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute in Colombo which was attended by senior government officials, members of the diplomatic community, civil society leaders, and youth. Praising Sri Lankans for retaking control of their country’s trajectory through the ballot box, Ambassador Shannon said, “As you get deeper into this century and people look for a model of reconciliation, when people look for hope in dark moments, Sri Lanka will be the point of reference.” Ambassador Shannon also reaffirmed U.S. solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka, stressing “We want you to be successful for your own benefit, for our benefit and for the benefit of the world”. While in Colombo, Ambassador Shannon also visited the Gangaramaya Temple as well.