Sri Lanka, US pledge to strengthen cooperation | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka, US pledge to strengthen cooperation

7 August, 2022

US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, PC, who met on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia, reiterated their commitment to stronger US-Sri Lanka ties as the latter seeks solutions to its economic crisis.

Secretary of State Blinken said, “Obviously, Sri Lanka is in a moment of challenge and crisis; the United States of America has worked hard to step in to support Sri Lanka in this moment. We have provided assistance to the value of about US$ 179 million of one kind or another, including loans and direct support, since June. But in crisis there is also an opportunity, and we will certainly support Sri Lanka in these efforts – there is an opportunity in this moment to create a more inclusive, representative, democratic, responsive Government and to use this crisis to seize that opportunity to make something very positive out of a very difficult situation. It would stand Sri Lanka in very good stead.

“We are also very supportive of Sri Lanka and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) working out an arrangement that also needs appropriate debt restructuring that has to be done on an equitable basis with all creditors doing what’s necessary to support Sri Lanka at this time,” he said.

Foreign Minister Sabry, in reply said, “Thank you so much, Secretary Blinken, for your warm congratulatory messages when I took over. And I have worked very closely with your Government in my previous capacity both as the Finance Minister and the Justice Minister, and we really appreciate the role played by the US in trying to get an IMF bailout as soon as possible and the debt being restructured.

“We understand the challenges, and in this challenge we also understand there are opportunities. And one good thing about the whole thing is the Sri Lankans have been united in all this and largely they have been peaceful; there are no incidents. Basically the whole sort of revolution had taken place, but it had taken place very peacefully. So that is the good part of it.

“We see that there is a huge obligation on our part to put the country back on track and get its economy out of the woods, which we are going through right now, and we look forward to work with the US administration throughout. We are very thankful for all the support. In the recent past we have seen a very high-level delegation visiting Sri Lanka, and then we have had several roundtable discussions and we have had a lot of support for our IMF approach from the US Treasury and State Department and from the Government in general.

“And of course, we cannot forget USAID which has provided a lot of support during these very difficult times. I hope you will continue to provide that support, particularly in some areas of very difficult reforms and we look forward to working with the US administration,” he added.