Report submitted to President to improve relations with Biden administration

A report has been submitted to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa making recommendations to improve relations between the Joe Biden administration in the United States and Sri Lanka.

The Pathfinder Foundation (PF) in collaboration with the Washington-based Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) held a virtual meeting in January 2021 to pursue improved bilateral relations between the US and Sri Lanka.

The discussions broadly focused on economic relations and sought a better understanding of the current  US administration.

The report on the discussion was presented to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by the Chairman of the Pathfinder Foundation Bernard Goonathilaka today.

The objective of the initiative was to provide the President Joe Biden administration with a better understanding of the ground situation prevailing in Sri Lanka, challenges, opportunities, and priorities that may impact  US – Sri Lanka bilateral relations.

The Sri Lankan delegation was headed by Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman-Pathfinder Foundation and former Ambassador to the U.S.  

Other members included H.M.G.S. Palihakkara – Former Foreign Secretary, Ambassador, and Permanent Representative to the U.N; Dr. Rohan Perera – Former Legal Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & PRUN, New York; Prof. Rohan Gunaratne – S. Rajaratnam School of Int. Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; Prof. Rohan Samarajiva – Chair, LIRNEasia & former Chairman of ICT;  Dr. Indirajit Coomaraswamy –  Former Governor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Distinguished Fellow – PF; Waruna Karunatilake – Former Chairman, Independent Committee for Digitalization of Television in Sri Lanka and Senior journalist; and Chathuka Senanayake, Director, Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.

Ambassador Robert O. Blake Jr., former Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs under the Obama Administration and Ambassador to Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Indonesia headed the US delegation comprising former senior government officials, representatives of civil society, etc.

The US team included Alyssa Ayres – Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Nisha Biswal – President, U.S. India Business Council, Senior Vice President for South Asia, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, former Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Sajit Gandhi – Senior Professional Staff Member, House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Nilanthi Samaranayake – Director, Strategy and Policy Analysis, Center for Naval Analysis; John Sifton – Asia Advocacy Director,  Human Rights Watch; Knox Thames – Visiting Expert, US Institute of Peace, Senior Fellow, Institute for Global Engagement and Alice Wells – International Government Relations Adviser, ExxonMobil, former Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia. (Colombo Gazette)

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