COLOMBO, June 23, 2023: United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung hosted an event in Colombo on June 22 to mark the 247th anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence. Ambassador Chung took the opportunity to also highlight the anniversary of 75 years of a strong and enduring partnership between the United States and Sri Lanka. Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry attended the celebration as the Chief Guest.
American citizens around the world celebrate Independence Day, the day on which the country’s founding fathers gathered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 4, 1776 to sign the Declaration of Independence. With the Declaration, America took its first step toward self-government, based on certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and government powers derived by the consent of the governed.
Ambassador Chung said at the event, “We firmly believe that from freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, spring the dynamism and entrepreneurism that can develop a nation, alongside the political and social stability that will secure it. That is true in the United States, in Sri Lanka, and everywhere in between.”
Highlighting that the United States is one of Sri Lanka’s oldest partners, Ambassador Chung emphasized that mutual values and close collaboration have demonstrated that both countries can succeed together. She said, “As we celebrate America’s national independence and our 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations, we are really celebrating a remarkable partnership with all the citizens and the Government of Sri Lanka. For Americans, our founders stated it clearly, and to this day, we follow the course they laid – we respect and adhere to our Constitution in order to form a more perfect union. The objective of the United States’ partnership with Sri Lanka is no less profound.”
Our partnership flourishes in government-to-government and people-to-people ties that deliver benefits to both Americans and Sri Lankans alike. Since 1956, USAID has provided over US $2 billion in assistance across a variety of sectors, including nutrition, health, education, human rights and governance, disaster response, and the environment. Just in the last year, when Sri Lanka was in the midst of an economic crisis, the United States Government provided over $270 million in new support, from fertilizer for farmers to funding assistance for small businesses.
Our military-to-military relationship, which has grown steadily over the years, is focused on bilateral training, exercises, and technical exchanges that will ultimately help to build a resilient force that can contribute to ensuring an open, free, and peaceful Indo-Pacific region. The Peace Corps has helped to form tremendous cross-cultural ties since 1962, with over 500 volunteers having dedicated two or more years of their lives, building capacities in Sri Lankan communities and developing relationships that will last a lifetime.
The United States is Sri Lanka’s largest export market, with $3.3 billion in exports in 2022 alone. It is also one of the preferred destinations of Sri Lanka’s brightest, with 3,000 students travelling to the U.S. to study in the last year. The U.S. Embassy directly supports other academic and professional training through exchanges such as the Fulbright and the International Visitor Leadership Programs, with nearly 3,000 Sri Lankans participating in these programs over the past 75 years.
Looking forward, the partnership that we have established will form the foundation of even greater development of people-to-people relationships; economic, political, and social progress; and a region that remains as free and open as it is geographically vital.
America’s friendship, commitment, and support in Sri Lanka have achieved much over the past 75 years, and that is worth celebrating. That same friendship, commitment, and support will endure, and together we can build a brighter future for Sri Lanka and its people.
See Ambassador Chung’s remarks from the Independence Day event: https://lk.usembassy.gov/ambassador-julie-j-chungs-remarks-at-independence-day-event/