A senior U.S. State Department official said Wednesday that Secretary of State John Kerry was traveling to Sri Lanka to show that the U.S. “applauds the vision” of that country’s new government.
Mr. Kerry will visit Colombo on Saturday as part of a weeklong trip that includes stops in Kenya and Djibouti. He will be the first secretary of state to visit Sri Lanka since Colin Powell did so in 2004.
In Sri Lanka, Kerry will meet with the President Maithripala Sirisena.
At a Wednesday briefing, the senior State Department official said the U.S. foresees having a “mutually helpful relationship” with Sri Lanka, a country that could become a “beacon” for democracy and human rights.
In February, the U.N. agreed to a six-month delay in publishing a report on alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka, in order to give the country’s new government an opportunity to cooperate with U.N. investigators.
During his trip, Kerry will meet with members of the Tamil National Alliance, elected officials who represent many of the country’s ethnic Tamils. He also will attend a celebration for the Vesak, stated the Voice of America.
“Effectively, what Secretary Kerry is doing is making himself part of the process of creating a new kind of relationship with Sri Lanka,” said Teresita Schaffer, a former U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka.
A senior State Department official said the U.S. wants to be “as helpful as possible” in supporting Sri Lanka’s effort to fulfill its goals of peace and reconciliation.