(US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap’s Remarks at the Reception Held in Jetwing Hotel, Jaffna
August 15, 2016)
Thank you so much for joining us on this beautiful rooftop on an absolutely gorgeous, gorgeous evening here in Jaffna. I have a few prepared remarks.
The first thing I want to say – and I know I am going to get points off for pronunciation – is Vanakkam. And the second important thing I want to say is Ayubowan. And the third thing I want to say is Assalaamu alaykum. But most importantly, from my heart, I want to say good evening and greetings to all of you.
I am extremely honored and grateful that my distinguished and learned friend, the Honorable Leader of the Opposition Mr. Sampanthan, is here tonight. And that we also have so many members of the Northern Provincial Council here, and members of Parliament from across the political spectrum, and all of you cherished guests who can join the women and men, not only of the American Embassy in Colombo who are here today, but also the women and men of the United States Pacific Command who have come all the way from Honolulu, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Nevada, California, and so many other places to be here tonight for this reception.
It is a delight to be looking out over this beautiful city of Jaffna to see her churches, her temples, her beauty, the ocean that is very nearby, and to celebrate with you the enduring ties between the people of the United States and the people of Sri Lanka. And friends, it gives me particular pride and happiness to know that the relationship between the people of America and the people of Jaffna stretches back over two hundred years to 1813, with the arrival of American missionaries who established durable institutions of learning.
I have visited Jaffna several times and have heard the painful memories of how the people of the Northern Province suffered so greatly during the many years of war. While truth telling, reconciliation, and accountability are essential, these will not bring back the lives lost and lives destroyed. However, this island now has an opportunity to remember the past while focusing on the future. This reception gathers us to reinforce the ties that bind our people, and serves as a continuation of the Embassy and the United States Government’s outreach to all Sri Lankans, in every part of the country, as you tread the path of meaningful, national reconciliation and heal the wounds of war.
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