Pathfinder-ASPI report on SL-US bilateral ties presented to President

Wednesday, 9 June 2021 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Pathfinder Foundation (PF) in collaboration with the Washington-based Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) held a virtual meeting in January to pursue improved bilateral relations between the US and Sri Lanka. 

The discussions broadly focused on economic and relations and with a better understanding of the ground situation of the US administration. The report on the discussion presented by PF Chairman Bernard Goonathilaka to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat.

The objective of the initiative was to provide President Joe Biden administration with a better understanding of the ground situation prevailing in Sri Lanka; challenges, opportunities and priorities that may impact on the US-Sri Lanka bilateral relationship. The discussions broadly focused on economic relations covering trade, investment, science and technology cooperation; strategic and security cooperation; and political and common values.

The Sri Lankan delegation was headed by Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman of Pathfinder Foundation and a former Ambassador to the US. Other members included H.M.G.S. Palihakkara – former Foreign Secretary, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN; Dr. Rohan Perera – former Legal Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and PRUN, New York; Prof. Rohan Gunaratne – S. Rajaratnam School of Int. Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; Prof. Rohan Samarajiva – Chair, LIRNEasia and former Chairman of ICT; Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy – former Governor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Distinguished Fellow – PF; Waruna Karunatilake – former   hairman, Independent Committee for Digitalisation of Television in Sri Lanka and Senior Journalist; and Chathuka Senanayake, Director, Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies. Amb. Robert O. Blake Jr., former Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs under the Obama Administration and Ambassador to Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia, headed the US delegation comprising former Senior Government officials, representatives of civil society, etc.

The US team included Alyssa Ayres – Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia; Nisha Biswal – President, US India Business Council, Senior Vice President for South Asia, US Chamber of Commerce, former Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia; Sajit Gandhi – Senior Professional Staff Member, House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Nilanthi Samaranayake – Director, Strategy and Policy Analysis, Center for Naval Analysis; John Sifton – Asia Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch; Knox Thames – Visiting Expert, US Institute of Peace, Senior Fellow, Institute for Global Engagement and Alice Wells – International Government Relations Adviser, ExxonMobil, former Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia.

Following the dialogue, each team produced a report comprising vital areas of the relationship and made recommendations to further develop bilateral relations.