09/28/2022, 15.13
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US Ambassador to FAO says US to continue helping Sri Lanka

by Arundathie Abeysinghe

Cindy McCain visited the island nation for four days, meeting with President Ranil Wickremesinghe and inspecting agricultural development projects. Washington also donated a ship to the Sri Lankan Navy. Tamil MPs call for justice in connection with the atrocities perpetrated during the civil war.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Ambassador Cindy McCain, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO) in Rome, ended a four-day visit to Sri Lanka today designed to highlight US food assistance programmes and boost the partnership between the United States and Sri Lanka.

Economic analysts and senior government officials told AsiaNews that Ambassador McCain's mission is a "great boost to the debt-ridden island nation mired in an economic crisis."

During her visit to the Central Province, Ambassador McCain was accompanied by US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung; together they visited schools, agricultural research facilities, community organisations and met with recipients of programmes funded by the US government.

After visiting Revatha Elementary School in Haggamuwa to inspect a US-funded FAO project, McCain stressed that “We are not just giving them seeds, but” also “the tools to be able to support themselves and their families in later years."

During her meeting with President Ranil Wickremesinghe, she emphasised “United States’s long-standing commitment to the people of Sri Lanka”, indicating that her visit was also meant to “assess humanitarian needs, inspect US-funded assistance and advocate for long-term strategies to build food security for all Sri Lankans”.

The US envoy stressed the need to revive Sri Lanka’s agriculture, a sector devastated by former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s decision to ban chemical fertilisers, which exacerbated food shortages.

The United States continues to maintain close ties with the island, not only through aid; earlier this month, Washington delivered a ship for the Sri Lankan Navy.

Last week, US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland reassured Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister, Ali Sabry, that her government would continue to support the South Asian nation in its the current economic crisis.

The meeting with Nuland followed that with Samantha Power, administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), who earlier this month met with President Wickremasinghe and representatives of opposition parties to discuss the country’s governance.

During the meeting, Tamil National Alliance MP M. A. Sumanthiran told Power that "Sri Lanka is currently being discussed at the UN Human Rights Council, where a resolution on accountability for mass atrocities” against ethnic Tamils during the civil war is still pending.

For Sumanthiran, “accountability must be pursued at the UNHCR and elsewhere."

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