Colombo, May 22: US ambassador to Sri Lanka says her country has no pact with Sri lanka for a permanent base in the country.
US Ambassador Alaina Teplitz in her first interview with the print media after the Easter Sunday attack exclusively told the Daily Mirror that there has been talk in the press around concern of a permanent US base in Sri Lanka. But, "this agreement would provide for nothing of that sort. It is about visiting forces here temporarily at the request and invitation of the Sri Lankan government for the conduct of exercises,” she added.
The US envoy said the ‘Visiting Forces Agreement’ that the US has been negotiating with the Sri Lankan government updates an existing agreement that dates way back to 1995.
She said that her country was committed to aid Sri Lanka to combat and defeat terrorism.
She said how President Donald Trump offered the necessary resources in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday attacks to conduct the investigation.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of the attacks. These attacks were senseless, vicious and unprecedented. It was a heartbreaking moment for the whole world. I hope the investigation is going to reveal in due time the extent and nature of the relationships that this attack group may have had abroad, but it is going to be important to understand that this was a home-grown group." "We are very pleased to be able to provide this assistance to a friend and partner in need through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI),” she said. She further said how information-sharing is key in the face of these threats. “That is a critical element of our ongoing safety and security, not just for Sri Lanka and the United States, but for our friends and partners in other nations,” she claimed.
When asked on the process of relinquishing US citizenship which has recently seen wide discussion in Sri Lanka, she said that renunciation of US citizenship is an ‘administrative’ not ‘political’ process and is straightforward.
“As long as you have paid your taxes and have no criminal cases, the renunciation of American citizenship moves along. But for privacy reasons I cannot comment on any specific case,” she said.
On whether the reinstatement of an alleged ‘white van squad leader’ would complicate the ability of the US government to provide counter-terrorism assistance to Sri Lanka, envoy Alaina Teplitz said that such appointments were ‘deeply disturbing’.
“If true, this appointment is deeply disappointing in the sense that there are credible, proven allegations against this individual and this is a country and a government that has committed to addressing gross violations of human rights in the past. That means it’s not just about reconciliation, but accountability as well, which has to be respected,” she said. (UNI)