COLOMBO: Signifying a distinct shift in its attitude to Sri Lanka, the US on Monday praised the Sirisena government and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for putting Lanka firmly on the path of democracy.
Addressing media persons after talks with Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal said that the new government has “already accomplished much in such a short time.”
The US had had very frosty relations with the predecessor government of Rajapaksa, which had accused Washington of trying to bring about a regime change through manipulation.
Biswal said that she is “excited” to be in Lanka and see for herself the “energy” that has been released since the Presidential election. The world is talking about Lanka’s democracy “for all the right reasons”, she added.
Offering a helping hand in regard to a wide range of issues confronting Lanka, the ranking US official said: “Sri Lanka can count on the US to be a partner and a friend in the way forward, whether it is about rebuilding the economy, preventing corruption and advancing good governance, or about ensuring human rights and democratic participation for all citizens.” But she warned that “difficult challenges” lay ahead. Biswal did not directly refer to the ongoing US-initiated UN probe into war crimes committed by the Lankan armed forces in the final phase of the Eelam War IV. But she did say that Washington wants to work with Colombo to “find constructive ways forward on all the areas of interest between our two nations”.
The new government has said that it will not allow its citizens to be probed by UN investigators, but has promised to hold a credible domestic inquiry. The US is still to respond to this assertion.