The United States (U.S.) wants to build a lasting peace and fellowship among Sri Lanka's various religious and ethnic groups, President Barack Obama's Ambassadorial nominee for Sri Lanka told lawmakers on Tuesday (23).
"We want to help build a lasting peace and fellowship among Sri Lanka's ethnic and religious communities, including credible justice, accountability and reconciliation that can facilitate closure for those who suffered and lost loved ones during the war," Atul Keshap, the nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing.
"It is important to get this right, and the UN and international community can lend useful insight to the efforts of the Sri Lankan people," Mr. Atul Keshap said.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Mr. Atul Keshap would be the second Indian-American to be serving in an Ambassadorial position in South Asia. Richard Verma is the current U.S. Envoy to India.
"We want to help the Sri Lankan people strengthen democracy, civil society, and human rights, including media freedom and freedom of religion," he said.
"Economically, the U.S. is Sri Lanka's largest export market. While our trade volume is relatively low, there is great potential to expand our partnership," he said.
Noting that there is also room for closer cooperation on disaster response and maritime security in the Indian Ocean, he said Sri Lanka is a regional leader in the fight against cybercrime, a contributor to United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Operations and is focused on disrupting drug trafficking and fighting maritime piracy.
"As we look to advance our interests across the Indo-Pacific, Sri Lanka will be a critical partner," Mr. Atul Keshap said.