US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) meets with Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Ali Sabry (right) at the Sokha Hotel in Phnom Penh, on 4 August – AFP
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Foreign Minister Ali Sabry in Cambodia
- Expresses US support to SL in IMF; stresses debt restructuring must be done on an equitable basis
- SL figures in Blinken talks with Indian Foreign Minister as well
The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken yesterday said Sri Lanka is in a moment of challenge and crisis but has an opportunity to create a more democratic and inclusive Government.
Blinken made the remarks in Cambodia prior to the meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart Ali Sabry PC, on the side-lines of a regional gathering. “Sri Lanka is in a moment of challenge and crisis; the United States has worked hard to step in to support Sri Lanka in this moment. We’ve provided about $ 179 million worth of assistance of one kind or another, including loans and direct support, since June.
But in crisis there is also opportunity, and I hope that – and we hope and will certainly support Sri Lanka in these efforts – there’s an opportunity in this moment to create a more inclusive, representative, democratic, responsive Government and to use this crisis to seize that opportunity to make something very positive out of a very difficult situation. It would stand Sri Lanka in very, very good stead,” Blinken said.
“We’re also very supportive of Sri Lanka and the IMF working out an arrangement that also requires appropriate debt restructuring that has to be done on an equitable basis with all of the creditors doing what’s necessary to support Sri Lanka at this time,” the US Secretary of State added.
In his remarks Foreign Minister Sabry expressed Sri Lanka’s appreciation to the role played by the US in trying to get an IMF bailout as soon as possible and the debt being restructured.
“We understand the challenges, and in this challenge, we also understand there are opportunities. And one good thing about the whole thing is the Sri Lankans have been united in all this and largely they have been peaceful; there are no incidents. Basically, the whole sort of revolution had taken place, but it had taken place very peacefully. So that’s the good part of it,” Sabry said.
According to him, the Government sees that there is a huge obligation on its part to put the country back on track and get its economy out of the woods. “We are going through right now, and we look forward to working with the American administration, US administration throughout. And we are very thankful for all the support,” he said.
Sabry also said in the recent past Sri Lanka has seen a very high-level delegation visiting and there had been several roundtable discussions. “We have had a lot of support for our IMF approach from the US Treasury and State Department and from the Government in general” Sabry added.
The Foreign Minister also made it a point to stress that the USAID has provided a lot of support during these very difficult times. “So, I hope you will continue to provide that support and (inaudible) support, particularly some areas of very difficult reforms and we look forward to working with the US administration to do that,” Sabry added.
Separately Blinken tweeted that during his meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar in Phnom Penh discussed the implications of Russia's aggression against Ukraine and Sri Lanka’s economic and political situation.