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75 years of Sri Lanka – U.S. Diplomatic Relations commemorated

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The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington D. C. on September 27 held a reception including a series of cultural performances to celebrate the 75th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and the United States of America. The event was held under the patronage of Chief Guest, M.U.M. Ali Sabry Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka. Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the United States, Mahinda Samarasinghe, the host on the occasion, welcomed the guests – special invitees from the U.S. government including the White House, Departments of State, Defence, Treasury, Commerce, the IMF/World Bank, members of the diplomatic corps and members of the Sri Lankan community, represented by several associations from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, among other guests.

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Samarasinghe stated that the relationship between the U.S.A. and (then) Ceylon preceded the attainment of Independence in 1948. He traced significant developments in the friendship up to the present day. Looking forward to the future, he expressed the hope that the relationship would grow stronger in the next 25 years and beyond.

Clinton D. White, Counsellor of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) traced the history of development cooperation between Sri Lanka and USAID with assistance to the country dating back to 1956. The Counsellor, who represented USAID Administrator Samantha Power, outlined the manifold sectors in which USAID is active in Sri Lanka and also looked to enhancing cooperation to enable the country to address and overcome the current economic challenges.

On behalf of the U.S. Department of State, Ambassador Donald Lu, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, stated that the young people of both societies would help grow the bilateral relationship by ensuring enhanced understanding and goodwill in the future.

Guest of Honour Chris Van Hollen, United States Senator for Maryland and Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reflected on his personal ties to Sri Lanka and expressed appreciation for the contributions of Sri Lankan Americans to the United States. He recalled his recent visit to the island and hoped that the multi-dimensional relations would continue to flourish.

The Keynote Speech was delivered by Chief Guest, Foreign Minister M.U.M. Ali Sabry, who expressed appreciation for the support extended to Sri Lanka by many agencies of the U.S. Government. The Minister noted that 2023 was also the 75th Anniversary of Independence from colonial rule. He outlined national priorities ranging from economic recovery to reconciliation and the positive contribution made by the United States in many of these spheres over time. He concluded by proposing a toast to the bilateral diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and the United States.

The guests and invitees were treated to a range of performances that exemplify the vibrant cultural diversity of Sri Lanka. It was led by Jananath Warakagoda, a Sri Lankan artiste of renown and his team, Natamu School of Traditional Sri Lankan Dance led by Chathuri Wickramaarachchi, Serendib Dance led by Asanga Domask as well as dancer Achila Perera, whose performances captivated the audience.

The Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington D.C. is grateful to the generous support extended by the Joint Apparel Association Forum Sri Lanka (JAAFSL), principal among several other sponsors, who supported the event as well as the production of a commemorative souvenir to mark the 75th anniversary. Basilur Tea provided attractive gift packs which were distributed among the invitees. The year 2023, during which many events were held to celebrate the special friendship, has been a productive one for the development of bilateral ties. The generosity and contribution from all, including from many Sri Lankan Americans, enabled the Embassy to organize and conduct these events without having recourse to any Government funding.

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