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.”
A statement issued by the US embassy in Sri Lanka further notes :
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.
Sri Lanka welcomes one-millionth tourist of 2023 (Pics)
A Russian national named Alex Mazkov, who arrived at the Katunayake Airport today (26) with his family has been welcomed as Sri Lanka’s one-millionth tourist of the year.
To celebrate this milestone, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau organized a special ceremony at the airport’s arrivals terminal. Mazkov and his family were warmly welcomed by officials and presented with traditional Sri Lankan garlands and souvenirs.
(Pics : BIA Facebook Page)
China donates school equipment & uniforms to 12,000 schoolchildren (Pics)
A donation of 12,000 school bags full of stationery and other study/daily items as well as 43,000 meters of school uniform fabric was gifted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China to local needy students.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe, PM Dinesh Gunawardena and Chinese ambassador – Mr. Qi Zhenhong attended a distribution ceremony this morning at the Hanwella Rajasinghe Central College, to hand over the donation.
Museum on history of Seethawaka
Addressing the event, President Wickremesinghe revealed that he has instructed the Department of Archaeology to explore the archaeological treasures of Seethawaka Kingdom. This effort aims to shed light on the historical significance of the region and pave the way for the construction of a museum dedicated to Seethawaka’s history.
The President had also expressed his dissatisfaction with the current education system and his determination to transform Sri Lanka into a vocational training centre while providing children with an education system that empowers them for the future.
Education, a vital investment
Meanwhile Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena underscored the significance of education as a vital investment in the country’s future. He emphasized the government’s unwavering commitment to the educational sector and acknowledged the importance of providing essential school equipment, generously provided by the Chinese government, to students.
The Prime Minister also paid tribute to the historical role of Rajasingha Central College Hanwella as the first Central College in the Kelani Valley, which has educated numerous students who have gone on to contribute significantly to the nation’s development. He emphasized the collective efforts of various governments that have made substantial contributions to the growth and advancement of Rajasingha Central College, Hanwella.
Chinese support to eradicate “poverty trap” & “trap of non-development”
Speaking at the event, the Chinese ambassador in Colombo – Mr. Qi Zhenhong said that China will firmly support “Sri Lanka in its efforts to achieve sustainable development, get rid of the “poverty trap” and “trap of non-development” and safeguard its independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national dignity.”
“At the present, our Sri Lankan brothers and sisters are faced with temporary difficulties of development. We firmly believe that under the strong leadership of President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, the heroic people of Sri Lanka will surely overcome these difficulties and open up an even brighter future,” the ambassador added.
Cuba – SL Presidents meet
President Ranil Wickremesinghe, embarked on an official visit to Cuba ahead of his participation in the G77 plus China Summit in Havana on September 15-16, hosted by Cuba as the current Chair of the G77 plus China.
During his visit, President Wickremesinghe engaged in bilateral discussions with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermudez, reinforcing the bonds of friendship and dialogue between the two nations.
President Wickremesinghe’s arrival in Cuba was marked by a warm welcome, as he received a Guard of Honour at the Palace of Revolution. President Díaz-Canel Bermudez expressed Cuba’s appreciation for the visit, emphasizing its significance during these challenging times globally. He praised Sri Lanka’s commitment to friendship with Cuba and to the vital role played by the G77 and China in representing the global South.
In their discussions, President Wickremesinghe recalled the history of bilateral cooperation between Sri Lanka and Cuba, particularly in multilateral forums. Both nations have supported each other on issues like lifting sanctions against Cuba and human rights matters. They identified areas of future cooperation, including public health, agriculture and sports.
President Díaz-Canel accepted President Wickremesinghe’s invitation to visit Sri Lanka in 2024, underscoring Cuba’s continued support for Sri Lanka. He also highlighted Cuba’s role in addressing North-South gaps in Science, Technology and Innovation, expressing willingness to share expertise, particularly in vaccine development.
The two leaders emphasized the importance of bolstering the relationship between their countries, focusing on collaboration in medicine, healthcare, sports training and coconut cultivation. President Wickremesinghe expressed Sri Lanka’s commitment to supporting Cuba in international forums, while President Díaz-Canel assured support for Sri Lanka regarding human rights resolutions.
This meeting represents a significant step forward in strengthening diplomatic ties between Sri Lanka and Cuba, with far-reaching implications for both nations and the broader global community. President Wickremesinghe was accompanied by key officials, including Secretary Foreign Affairs Ms. Aruni Wijewardane, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Cuba Mr. Lakshitha Ratnayake, the Director General of the United Nations and Multilateral Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Rekha Gunasekera and Private Secretary to the President Ms. Sandra Perera.
(President’s Media Division)
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