U.S. OFFICIALS CONGRATULATE SRI LANKA ON VICTORY OVER LTTE
May 20, 2009, WASHINGTON -- A top U.S. Defense Department official congratulated the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States Wednesday on Sri Lanka’s military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Robert Scher, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia, pledged American humanitarian and reconstruction support to the government of Sri Lanka during a phone conversation with Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Scher said the U.S. government was pleased that Sri Lanka had defeated the LTTE terrorists, and asked Ambassador Wickramasuriya to extend congratulations to the government and military of Sri Lanka.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Scher was appointed to his position following the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
The Ambassador said assistance in clearing landmines in northern Sri Lanka was crucial to quickly returning the 250,000 displaced citizens to their homes. Deputy Assistant Secretary Scher pledged U.S. support in clearing landmines.
Ambassador Wickramasuriya explained that the government has an ambitious plan to redevelop Northern Sri Lanka, where the LTTE was present. The program includes reconciliation with Tamil civilians, as well as the reconstruction of long-neglected roads and bridges, railway lines, water and sanitation facilities and at least 80,000 homes. Local elections are also planned.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Scher expressed concern for the displaced civilians and promised short-term humanitarian aid and longer-term development assistance from the U.S. He agreed that reconciliation with the Tamil civilians affected by the conflict was essential.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Scher also told Ambassador Wickramasuriya that the U.S. government extends condolences to the families of Sri Lankan military personnel lost during the 25-year-long conflict, as well as to families of civilians who died.
In Colombo, Sri Lanka, U.S. Ambassador Robert O. Blake congratulated President Mahinda Rajapakse on behalf of the U.S. Government when he called on Sri Lanka President to bid him goodbye on the completion of his term of office in Sri Lanka. Ambassador Blake also assured President Mahinda Rajapaksa that the US Government will give every assistance in advancing the humanitarian welfare of displaced persons.