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Outgoing Sri Lankan ambassador praises US relations

Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United States praised relations between the two governments, stating that they had reached “unprecedented heights”, as he leaves his post to take up a new assignment as the Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The list of Sri Lanka’s landmark achievements are too many to mention,” said Prasad Kariyawasam at a farewell event held in Washington DC.

Since Sri Lanka’s presidential election in January 2015, Mr Kariyawasam said the government had “engendered a path breaking revival of our bilateral relations, and our partnership has now reached unprecedented heights”.

“This renewal and transformation of the US-Sri Lanka relationship has ensured that I leave this country more certain than ever before,” said the ambassador in his speech, listing out initiatives with the US, such as the inaugural Partnership Dialogue and the Millennium Challenge Corporation's consecutive selection of Sri Lanka for a threshold programme. The move was “no doubt a recognition of the significant strides that the Government and people of Sri Lanka have made in our transformative path towards a rights-based, people-centric approach to governance and democratic practice,” he said.

“The doors have been opened to harness the fullest potential for expanding cooperation into ever-widening subject areas, in time to come,” he added.

See the full text of his speech here.

Mr Kariyawasam took over as Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United States in June 2014.

During his time in Washington the ambassador dismissed the impact of the UN inquiry into mass atrocities in the country, stating that Sri Lanka is not prepared to accept the OHCHR Investigation into Sri Lanka (OISL) report and criticised an editorial published by the New York Times on Sri Lanka's refusal to allow in UN investigators.

He had also stated that intervening in Sri Lanka’s domestic affairs was against international law in 2014, when Sri Lanka was facing heightening pressure from the US and the United Nations Human Rights Council for failure to deliver on justice and accountability for mass atrocities in Sri Lanka.

Previously he held the post of High Commissioner to India where he slammed at United Nations Human Rights Council resolution as part of “an annual ritual to humiliate Sri Lanka” that was brought about by "LTTE lobbies from the west", and labelled protests by students in Tamil Nadu a “form of terrorism”. He was also forced to apologise after suggesting that any Tamil Nadu MPs who spoke of accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity had been lobbied by the LTTE and should be investigated by Indian authorities.