US strongly endorsed democratic progress in Sri Lanka, Kerry tells Senate Committee

Thursday, 25 February 2016 01:12 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Washington, DC: The United States in 2015 strongly endorsed democratic progress in Sri Lanka as the island nation entered a new era following the political transformation intimated with the election of President Maithripala Sirisena in January 2015.

Secretary of State John Kerry in his opening remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the State Department’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2017 Tuesday said the US witnessed important democratic gains in Sri Lanka last year.

“We have witnessed important democratic gains in, among other places, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and Burma,” Kerry said. “Also in 2015, we strongly endorsed democratic progress in Sri Lanka, while elevating our important strategic dialogue with India to include a commercial component, reflecting the five-fold increase in bilateral trade over the last decade,” the Secretary told Congress.

The United States Government is seeking the approval of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for approximately $50 billion in the 2017 budget to sustain America’s international engagement, which is “deeper and more wide-ranging today than ever before in our history,” according to the Secretary of State. Secretary Kerry has proposed a $ 31 million financial assistance to Sri Lanka for Fiscal Year 2017, beginning 1 October this year.

In his budget request presented to the Congress earlier this month, Secretary Kerry said In FY 2017, the US assistance will be used to “strengthen governance, democratic reform, and the rule of law by promoting and protecting human rights, strengthening justice sector institutions, and supporting civil society organisations.” “FY 2017 resources will also be used to encourage reconciliation efforts and support anti-corruption activities – key foci as the Government undertakes major reforms during this political transition,” the State Department proposals further read. “To help increase economic stability, US assistance will also work to improve economic governance and growth, while supporting livelihoods and promoting trade,” it added.