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New envoy to take Tiger lobby head on

‘Foreign mission must play bigger role’:

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Ambassador designate to the United States Jaliya Wickremasuriya on the eve of his departure yesterday claimed that one of his priorities as the country’s top diplomat in the US would be to map out an effective campaign to counter false LTTE propaganda.

While emphasising that whichever Government was in power the US would deplore terrorism in all its forms and manifestations Wickremasuriya said that it was all about portraying the true picture effectively to address misconceptions.

In an interview with the Daily News, Wickremasuriya said: “My first intention is to transform Sri Lanka’s image from a country better known for its calamities and disasters in the Western world to one which would be fondly looked upon as a viable destination for leisure travel, investment, trade and a place where foreigners could feel at home amidst traditional Sri Lankan hospitality.”

The new Ambassador considers that foreign missions should play a bigger role in international affairs without confining themselves to the usual diplomatic practices.

His vision as a practical businessman is to run the office to propagate Sri Lanka’s cause with the help of fellow migrants and staff under several functioning arms such as public relations and welfare, a promotional campaign which relays the true picture of the Government’s struggle against terrorism and enhance image, promote tourism, trade, investment and commerce with the expectation of enhancing bi-lateral economic ties.

Sri Lanka’s former Consul General in Los Angeles who succeeds incumbent Bernard Goonatilake as the next Ambassador to Washington DC, also revealed his intention of bringing all expatriate Lankans in the US under one banner to further the country’s cause.

According to Wickremasuriya he is already in the process of gathering relevant data of all Lankans residing in the US and subsequently would seek their help to form a common alliance to promote Sri Lanka in the US in a productive manner.

Wickremasuriya intends to launch a mobile service covering all states in the US in a bid to reach out to all Lankan expats in a more effective manner to address their grievances and help them in their hour of need.

In addition the diplomat has also mooted a US-Sri Lanka economic development forum which he initiated during his tenure as the Consul General with the expectation of promoting trade, commerce and investment between the two countries.

As a result a strong delegation of US investors is expected to arrive in Sri Lanka shortly to exploit investment possibilities, Wickremasuriya said.

Wickremasuriya as Consul General in California was also instrumental in organizing “Focus Sri Lanka-2007”- a trade, investment and tourism exhibition last May, which according to many was an eye opener for US investors and public regarding the true situation in Sri Lanka and attractive vistas in the economic sphere.

The new Sri Lankan Ambassador is considered as a person who is thoroughly conversant with the American terrain due to his long association with the business environment in US. He has represented the country and his company in over 40 countries promoting exports.

 

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