Under Secretary Kennedy recognized that “The Sri Lankan people, through the democratic process, have embraced the need for healing, reconciliation, and accountability, and [your] President, Prime Minister, and Opposition Leader have all made commitments to put an end to ill-will, hatred, and strife.” Echoing State Department’s Counsellor Ambassador Thomas Shannon’s words in Sri Lanka last December, the Under Secretary further observed that, “The world is watching Sri Lanka. Your solutions, if successful, can become the blueprint for future generations, in distant nations, who are trying to find their way back to peace, justice, and harmony.”
The Embassy hosted this years celebrations with a reception attended by a large gathering of Sri Lankan-Americans, DC diplomatic community and senior US government officials.
Delivering his remarks Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam said that the people of Sri Lanka were celebrating the 68thanniversary of independence with a sense of confidence and renewed pride, with their abiding commitment to democracy having been reaffirmed at two historic elections last year. He reaffirmed that Sri Lanka was committed to ensuring that the fruits of democracy and citizenship are enjoyed by all the people of the country, equitably.
The Ambassador highlighted the landmarks of the bilateral relationship last year, which, among other things, saw Sri Lanka welcoming several U.S. dignitaries, including Secretary of State John Kerry on the first such visit to Sri Lanka by a US Secretary of State in 43 years. The Ambassador also pointed to the launching of the U.S. - Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue later this month, as testimony to the distance the two countries had come in the “journey of [our] friendship.”
Earlier in the day, the Ambassador and the staff of the Embassy organized a solemn event to observe the independence day at the Embassy premises with multi-faith observances conducted by religious dignitaries representing the Buddhist, Hindu, Islam and Christian faiths. The independence day messages of the President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister were read out to the gathering. The Sri Lankan national anthem was sung in Sinhala and Tamil at both events.