(Excerpted from the Political Column spearing in the “Sunday Morning”of September 18th 2022)
USAID Chief Power during her brief visit to Sri Lanka met with President Wickremesinghe, Opposition legislators, farmers, civil and business communities and the PTA was also a focal point in her discussions.
Wickremesinghe and Power had a one-on-one meeting as well. When Power and her delegation arrived at the President’s Office, the President’s staff had requested Power if she was first willing to meet Wickremesinghe for a one-on-one meeting prior to the official meeting. Power had expressed her willingness
. However, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung had not been too pleased and asked if the official meeting was to take place. Upon being informed that the official meeting would be after the meeting between the President and Power, the USAID Chief had met the President.
However, Ambassador Chung had been quite displeased and insisted that she be allowed to sit in at the meeting between the President and Power.
The officials at the President’s Office had said they were unable to let her in without permission. When Chung had expressed her displeasure, the officials had said they would have to first get the President’s permission to let her sit in at the meeting. Finally, the President had given permission for Chung to do so.
Before Chung was permitted to attend the meeting, Power had inquired from the President if it was okay with him or whether he (Wickremesinghe) preferred a private meeting. Wickremesinghe had however said he was not opposed to Chung sitting in on the meeting.
However, Wickremesinghe and Chung do not share the best relationship, with the former being informed of communication between the US Ambassador and the US State Department that had resulted in the US not sending out an official congratulatory note to the President on his assumption of office.