2ND LEAD (Adds link to Sunday Leader article)
Sri Lanka's new Ambassador to US presents credentials
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 30 July 2008, 02:17 GMT]
Sri Lanka's new Ambassador to U.S., Jaliya Wickramasuriya, presented his Credentials to U.S. President George W. Bush, at the Oval Office of the White House, on July 28, 2008, Sri Lanka embassy website reported. As the 15th Ambassador to the U.S., Wickramasuriya replaces the outgoing Ambassador Bernard Gunatillake.
Jaliya Wickremasuriya, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to US (Photo: Embassy website)
"During the ceremony, President George W. Bush warmly welcomed Ambassador Wickramasuriya to Washington D.C. and said that he looked forward to deepening the relationship between the two countries. He added that the United States values its friendship with Sri Lanka, noting that the two countries established a trade relationship as early as the 18th Century, and since then, time has seen the expansion of ties between the two countries, in tourism, education, investment, and common interests," the press release in the Sri Lanka Embassy website said.
"Ambassador Wickramasuriya responded with equal warmth and conveyed President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s appreciation of U.S. support to Sri Lanka in its continuing struggle to combat terrorism, especially the pro-active measures taken by the U.S. toward this end. For three decades, Sri Lanka has suffered the social, psychological, physical and economic consequences of terrorism, which has taken the lives of countless innocent civilians, who have become victims of war," the release further said.
Meanwhile, the latest edition of Sri Lanka's popular weekly, Sunday Leader, described the appointment as "another turn for the worst" in the "on-going sob-story of Sri Lanka's dilapidated foreign service," pointing out that the 48-year old ambassador, who is a cousin of Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse, has only high school education.
The paper also raised questions on possible irregularities in the ambassador's personal tax filings in Sri Lanka, and in the U.S where he ran a tea import business.