The United States “will support the vision of the Sri Lankan people” and work towards a free democracy on the island, said US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap on Monday.
Speaking at a reception aboard the US Navy's 7th fleet flag ship "Blue Ridge", which is docked in Colombo this week, Mr Keshap said he was “thrilled” at the visit and hoped “this will be the first of many to come”.
The ambassador tweeted photos of himself at the event alongside Dayan Jayatilleka, a former Sri Lankan diplomat who has denied reports of war crimes and supported former president Mahinda Rajapaksa following his removal from office last year.
Also present at the event were Sri Lankan politicians Mangala Samaraweera, Ravi Karunayake and Karu Jayasuriya.
“This ship is here because as Americans we respect and appreciate the values that the Sri Lankan voters voted for in the two elections of January 8 and August 17 of last year,” he continued Mr Keshap.
“We appreciate the vision of the Sri Lankan people for their country to be a reconciled, peaceful, unified, prosperous, and free democracy that can be a pillar of stability and prosperity for the entire Indo-Pacific region. We appreciate very much the vision of the Sri Lankan people and the American people are reciprocating.”
“John Kerry said when he was here in May of last year, for the first visit by a U.S. Secretary of State in 41 years, that we will support the vision of the Sri Lankan people and the Sri Lankan voters. And we are doing so through this ship visit, through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, through the visits by many American senior officials, and by the presence of all of you.”
His speech comes after Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena visited the USS Blue Ridge earlier on Monday.
The ship’s visit to Sri Lanka will allow US troops to "interact with the Sri Lankan Marines... and share some of our tactics,” said Staff Sergeant Christopher Buch, Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific (FASTPAC) Operations Chief previously.
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