GL sets record straight on US visit
External Affairs Minister Prof G L Peiris said yesterday he did not
visit US in March before the resolution was taken up for consideration
in Geneva to prevent possible misunderstandings.
“If I visited US before it brought in the resolution, the impression
would have been created that it was a collaborative and consensual
resolution between Sri Lanka and the US. ‘There could have been a huge
misunderstanding unfavourable for Sri Lanka, if I visited US and met US
officials at the wrong time. We corrected that misunderstanding which
existed among some countries by not visiting the US in March,” Prof
Peiris said at a special press briefing at the External Affairs Ministry
Prof Peiris said that the invitation extended by US Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton has now been accepted and the meeting will take
place as scheduled.
“The dates for the meeting have been fixed for May. She will be
briefed on the progress made by Sri Lanka. Technical assistance can only
be given to a country with the consent of that specific country,” the
According to Prof Peiris, there are over 5,000 Sri Lankan students in
US universities and there are several trade, bilateral etc links between
Sri Lanka and US.
“The relationship with Sri Lanka and US is strong. US is a major
market for Sri Lankan commodities, particularly apparel products. We
have extensive programmes on defence cooperation,” he said. The minister
said from the beginning, Sri Lanka did not agree with the US resolution
being brought against Sri Lanka and thought it a mistake.
“This single event does not ruin everything. There is no need to drag
on things which occurred in the past. The Sri Lankan government has one
standpoint on the issue and it will be expressed to all countries.
The Sri Lankan government will not state one standpoint to India and
another to US,” Prof Peiris said.
The minister said that the Indian stand fundamentally transformed the
situation in Geneva and drastically affected the arithmetic. “Many
countries planning to vote with us were compelled to abstain and some
countries planning to abstain were compelled to vote. The problem for us
was not the Indian vote but the statement made in the Indian Parliament
two and a half days before the crucial vote,” he said.
“The text of the statement of the Indian Prime Minister was
immediately distributed among all in Geneva. The friendship and
relationship between India and Sri Lanka is historical. The relationship
between the two countries is not one dimensional.
It is far from being one dimensional. It is a rich and radiant
relationship. It stood in the middle of stronger and greater shocks in
the past than this. We need to move on. We are planning to nurture and
strengthen the relationship,” the minister said.