Jan 15, 2020

MCC agreement with SL will be renegotiated - US official

The Millennium Challenge Corporation agreement with Sri Lanka will be renegotiated after the commission appointed by President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to study the agreement concludes its study, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells said.

Ambassador Wells, who is on a two-day official visit to Sri Lanka, held bilateral discussions with President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Tuesday in Colombo.

During the discussion, the President has told the U.S. official that the proposal to the MCC agreement is being studied by a panel of experts at the moment since both countries respecting democratic values, the aspirations of the people of both the US and Sri Lanka should be taken into consideration in the future activities of the MCC Agreement.

Ambassador Wells said the US respects Sri Lanka’s decision to appoint a committee to study the proposed agreement and will await the outcome of that process.

Addressing the reporters before her departure, Ms. Wells said she also delivered a letter from US President Donald Trump to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The letter underscored the commitment and interests by the US to further its partnership with Sri Lanka.

The U.S. top official said she held discussions with President Rajapaksa on a wider and safer Indo-Pacific region among other issues of mutual interest. Discussion also focused on economy, elections, collaboration to generate Foreign Direct Investment, securing human rights and ways to strengthen the partnership between the two countries.

“US values its relationship with Sri Lanka and looks forward to strengthening ties by expanding cooperation on economy and trade, counter-terrorism, security, transitional justice and human rights. Both of our nations will benefit,” Wells said.

Expressing concerns on Chinese investments in Sri Lanka, the U.S. official said the Hambanthota Port agreement with China is unsuccessful and an injustice to the Sri Lankan people.

Wells also held discussions with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on matters of security, trade and investment. She also met with the Opposition, the Tamil national Alliance and civil society leaders.

Lisa Curtis, deputy assistant to U.S. president Donald Trump, and Senior Director for South and Central Asia on the National Security Council and U.S. Ambassador to Colombo Aliana B. Teplitz also participated in the discussions with the Sri Lankan President and other officials.