U.S. says much remains to be done in Sri Lanka

4COLOMBO, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) — The United States said on Wednesday there is a lot of work to be done in Sri Lanka after a new government came to power last month.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal, who just concluded a visit to Sri Lanka, also said her government looks forward to partnering with the Sri Lankan people to address the challenges and help Sri Lanka realize its true potential.

Biswal, accompanied by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Atul Keshap, met with a range of political and civil society leaders.

This is the highest U.S. delegation to Sri Lanka since the presidential elections on Jan. 8.

“It was a privilege to visit Colombo to witness for myself the sense of excitement and optimism that the Sri Lankan people have ushered in through the historic January 8 election. In my meetings with government, civil society, private sector, and political parties, I heard a consistent message of hope about translating this promise into a brighter reality for all Sri Lankans,” Biswal said in a statement issued at the conclusion of her visit by the U. S. embassy.

Biswal said she had “very productive conversations” with President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, Urban Development Minister Rauff Hakeem, and State Minister for Defense Ruwan Wijewardene.

She also held talks with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which is the main Tamil political party in Sri Lanka though a planned trip to the former war-torn northern part of the country failed to materialize due to shortage of time.

“I also had a chance to meet with other political, civil society, religious, and business leaders. In all of these meetings I reiterated our desire to see the U.S.-Sri Lanka relationship grow to the benefit of both our nations. I congratulated President Sirisena on his victory and expressed the United States’ willingness to work with the new government as it pursues a future for Sri Lanka that is peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous,” she added.

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