US congressional delegation meets Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo

[TamilNet, Saturday, 15 February 2020, 23:43 GMT]
A day after US State Secretary Mike Pompeo imposed a travel ban on SL Army commander Lt General Shavendra Silva and his immediate family members against visiting the US, two US Congressmen met SL Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo on Saturday. US Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz accompanied Amerish Babulal Bera (Ami Bera) of the Democratic Party and George Edward Bell Holding of the Republican party, who met Mr Rajapaksa. The US delegation discussed “strengthening of relations” in counter-terrorism, tourism & energy sectors, reported the Daily Mirror. The report didn't have any reference to the US blacklisting.

Ami Bera chairs the Congressional Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation.

In December 2019, when Bera replaced Brad Sherman as the chair of the subcommittee on Asia-Pacific, Sinhala propagandist writers aligned with the Rajapaksa establishment interpret the change as favourable towards Colombo. One Sinhala writer, described the former chair, Sherman, as having links to a “Tamil Tiger operative” in the US.

Mr Bera represents California's 7th congressional district, and Mr Holding represents North Carolina's 2nd congressional district.

In the meeting with SL Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Ms Tepliz, the US Ambassador was talking about “Sri Lanka’s larger role in the region,” the Daily Mirror report said. The US Ambassador was quoted as saying that the US was supporting “a strong, sovereign Sri Lanka”.

In another news report, the Daily Mirror said the SL Ministry of Foreign Relations was summoning US Ambassador Alaina Teplitz to the ministry on Sunday to convey SL government’s displeasure over the US blacklisting on Friday.

Mike Pompeo, while issuing the public designation, said that the US remained “committed to strengthening the bilateral relationship” and helping “reshape” its security forces to tackle “current and emerging threats”.


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