US wants future SL governments to respect yahapalana foreign deals

By Rathindra Kuruwita 

The US expected future Sri Lankan governments to respect the international obligations taken on by the current UNP-led administration, a senior US embassy officer told a group of journalists, yesterday. 

 The Colombo-based senior official who wished to remain anonymous also said that the last three years had seen an expansion in US-Sri Lanka relations and whether that change would continue under a new government was yet to be decided. 

 The offcial said: "We want any government that comes to respect human rights and democracy. We also want them to continue to respect the international obligations taken on by the present administration. We have a 70-year-old relationship with Sri Lanka and that will continue in some form."

A high level US delegation would arrive in Sri Lanka to discuss trade matters, among which GSP+ would be a main point of discussion, the official noted.

 US GSP+ facility for India was withdrawn recently and when queried whether GSP+ would be used to push Sri Lanka to sign Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), the official said that the two were separate matters. 

 "The delegates will meet Minister Malik Samarawickrame and his officials. They will also talk to the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce on GSP+ to see if more exports from Sri Lanka are possible," he said.

 The official said the US was also aware of the sensitivity of certain articles in visiting forces agreement. It was clearly recognised with regard to the prosecution of US personnel who might commit a crime in Sri Lanka. "We will prosecute such persons under US military laws. This avoids political issues that can arise if another nation holds a US military officer. It’s assumed that the fact that wrongdoers will be punished under US military law will deter bad behaviour but this is a very sensitive issue."

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