I have never been to a place that made me feel more welcome, U.S. Representative for Alabama, Robert Aderholt said recalling his visit to Sri Lanka in 2004.
During a ceremony organised by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of Independence, the US Representative said ties between Sri Lanka and the United States government are strong, and they will get stronger in the days to come.
The celebration held at the University of the District of Columbia on February 5 was attended by the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O Blake, Mayor of Washington, D.C, Vincent Gray and U.S. Rep of Alabama Robert Aderholt.
Asst. Secretary of State Blake stated that he was appearing on behalf of President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He spoke of Sri Lanka’s reconciliation efforts, and his own time spent as U.S. ambassador in Sri Lanka, “where my family and I developed many friendships.”
During his speech, Mayor Gray recognized Sri Lanka’s work to gain independence 63 years earlier and Washington D.C.’s continuing effort to gain statehood in the U.S.
In his welcoming remarks, Ambassador Wickramasuriya recognized the strong relations between the U.S. and Sri Lanka, as well as the positive results of the re-development policies of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“Sri Lanka is a nation moving forward,” Ambassador Wickramasuriya said. “We are redeveloping areas affected by the conflict with the support of the international community, including the United States.
People who were held hostage by the terrorists were rescued and then resettled by the Government of Sri Lanka — at a record pace.
The Ambassador also warned against the influence of extremists.
“I am sure that by working together, we can assist our motherland in fulfilling its true potential,” Ambassador Wickramasuriya said. “We are well on our way to truly becoming the Wonder of Asia.”
Special guests also included Minister of Petroleum Industries, Susil Premjayanth, and Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs Duminda Dissanayake, the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington said.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Embassy in India celebrated the Independence Day at the Embassy premises with the participation of leading Indian representatives of all important spheres, foreign diplomats and the Sri Lankan community.
Addressing the gathering, quoting from President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s message High Commissioner Kariyawasam said that the anniversary of Independence is a day the whole nation could rejoice and rededicate to safeguard independence. He added that it is of paramount importance to accelerate the work on nation-building to fulfill the aspirations of the people. “The aspiration of the nation is to make more meaningful the freedom won with much sacrifice,” he said.
The chief guest at the reception in the evening was Ms Kumari Selja, Minister of Culture and Urban Housing Development. She released a ‘Sri Lanka Special Report’ published by the premier Hindi newspaper Jagran which has a circulation of over 2 million copies.
The wide coverage given by the Indian media included a live telecast of an interview with High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam by the pioneer television channel of India, the Doordarshan in its nation-wide channel. The High Commissioner’s message was broadcast by the Rajdhani (Capital) service of All India Radio.