2ND LEAD (Adds evidence document)
Colombo bargains China connections in return for US favour
[TamilNet, Sunday, 02 February 2014, 14:36 GMT]
Colombo has been lobbying the members of the US Congress through a Washington DC based advisory and strategy firm, citing its geo strategic location, the China factor and a ‘fast growing’ economy. A Europe-based source has provided TamilNet a letter of invitation sent by Robert J. Thompson, the chairman of the Thompson Advisory Group, which helps governments to solve global strategic problems, to US Congresswoman Gwen Moore on 21 January 2014.
“China is making major inroads already in Sri Lanka, but our distinguished visitors wish to make sure that relations with the United States are improved even more strongly,” the letter states attaching a trade routes map projecting the island's geostrategic location.
The ‘distinguished visitors’ were Mr Ajith Nivard Cabraal the governor of Central Bank of Sri Lanka and Lalith Weeratuga, the permanent secretary to the President of Sri Lanka.
“As illustrated on the attached map from Hofstra University, the island nation of Sri Lanka is astride the main maritime trade routes of the Indian Ocean, with fast-growing economic and strategic significance as that area of the world experiences rapid growth. China is making major inroads already in Sri Lanka, but our distinguished visitors wish to make sure that relations with the United States are improved even more strongly,” the letter states.
“Next Monday we will deliver to your office a DVD of the 28-minute mini-documentary, "Sri Lanka: Reconciling & Rebuilding" by former CNN Anchor Gene Randall, which is to air immediately following "This Week" on Sunday morning in Washington, DC. It provides an overview of the situation in Sri Lanka, which Mr Cabraal and Mr Weeratunga will expand upon during their Capitol Hill visits,” the letter further states also adding a personal note by former Rep. Ernest Istook of Oklahoma with the letter. * * *
In April last year, Colombo based Sunday Times revealed that Colombo's Ambassador to Washington, Wickremesuriya, has hired the lobbying firm Majority Group for USD 50,000 a month to lobby the US Government.
The paper had also revealed that the Central Bank of Sri Lanka hired the US lobbying firm Thompson Advisory Group LLC for US$ 66,600 (Rs. 8,337,600) a month.
Thompson Advisory Group Chairman Robert Thompson’s driver was Thilak Mohan Siriwardana, a Sinhalese, who was being paid $7,000 per month on a contract with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.