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US agrees to establish Peace Corps in Sri Lanka

The United States announced that it will re-establish its Peace Corps program in Sri Lanka, after the program was shut down on the island almost 20 years ago.

Sheila Crowley, Acting Director of the US Peace Corps, and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana signed an agreement at Temple Trees this week, which will see Peace Corps volunteers arrive on the island in September next year. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and US Ambassador Atul Keshap were also present at the signing.

“Peace Corps’ efforts in Sri Lanka will focus on English language education,” said a US press release. “Once in Sri Lanka, volunteers will undergo three months of comprehensive cultural, language and technical training before they are given their assignments to serve for two years.”

The US had shut down the program in 1998 due to “political instability”, though Peace Corps have intermittently returned.

“The return of Peace Corps to Sri Lanka is an opportunity to deepen the enduring friendship that has grown between our two countries over the past 70 years,” said Acting Peace Corps Director Sheila Crowley. “We are grateful to the Government and people of Sri Lanka for their invitation to, once again, have Peace Corps volunteers serve side-by-side with Sri Lankans in their beautiful country.”

The re-establishment of the program comes amidst growing military ties between the United States and Sri Lanka.