The United States and Sri Lanka expressed commitment in expanding bilateral defense relations and to advancing shared interests, a US government statement revealed. This assurance was given during a telephone conversation between US Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper and Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday (31).
The two leaders discussed their shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific that ensures the sovereignty of all nations.
Reviewing common bilateral defense priorities, they noted opportunities to enhance military professionalization, counter-terrorism, and maritime security cooperation. "During the call, Secretary Esper congratulated the Sri Lankan President on his successful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent conclusion of parliamentary elections, and urged continued progress on reconciliation and human rights in Sri Lanka," a statement issued by the US government said.
Meanwhile, in a twitter message, Dr. Esper said: “Good talk today w Sri Lankan President @GotabayaR. We discussed our cooperation in responding to COVID 19 & the international security environment. We look to deepen CT & maritime security cooperation, and I encouraged continued progress on human rights & reconciliation," he said.
Current U.S policy in Sri Lanka aims to support Sri Lanka’s democratic institutions, encourage its economic development, counterterrorism, and promote a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
Both governments intend to promote further economic cooperation and exchanges in maritime security and safety, and agree to pursue joint initiatives to enhance security, stability, transparency, and economic opportunity for mutual benefit.
The United States has made substantial investments in agriculture,enterprise development, education, healthcare, energy and natural resources, and humanitarian activities.
The two countries are also discussing a $480 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact supporting Sri Lanka's economic development. The US also provided $39 million in foreign military financing to enhance Sri Lanka’s maritime domain awareness.
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has provided over $5 million in assistance to Sri Lanka to date. The United States is Sri Lanka’s largest export market and accounts for nearly $3 billion of the $11.7 billion of goods Sri Lanka exports annually.
Sri Lanka has also received approximately $1.2 billion in lending from the IMF since June 2016 with a new disbursement of $164.1 million agreed upon in May 2019.