A high-level US delegation arrived in Sri Lanka on Sunday to hold talks with the country’s top leadership and explore the "most effective ways" to help the island nation resolve its unprecedented economic crisis.
During their four-day official stay, the top officials from the US Treasury and the State Department will meet a wide range of political representatives, economists, and international organisations to “explore the most effective ways for the US to support Sri Lankans in need, Sri Lankans working to resolve the current economic crisis, and Sri Lankans planning for a sustainable and inclusive economy for the future,” the US Embassy said in a statement.
“This visit underscores our ongoing commitment to the security and prosperity of the Sri Lankan people,” said US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Julie Chung.
“As Sri Lankans endure some of the greatest economic challenges in their history, our efforts to support economic growth and strengthen democratic institutions have never been more critical,” she said.
Members of the delegation include Robert Kaproth, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Asia, and Ambassador Kelly Keiderling, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia.
Over the past two weeks, the US has announced USD 120 million in new financing for Sri Lankan small and medium-sized businesses, a USD 27 million contribution to Sri Lanka’s dairy industry and USD 5.75 million in humanitarian assistance to help those hit hardest by the economic crisis.
The United States also committed USD 6 million in new grants to provide livelihood assistance to vulnerable populations, and technical assistance on financial reform that will help stabilise the economy.
The United States strongly supports Sri Lanka’s decision to seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund, which can provide the most durable resolution to the present crisis, the statement said.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the US Mahinda Samarasinghe recently met President Joe Biden at the Oval office.
Sri Lanka is facing the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948 which has led to an acute shortage of essential items like food, medicine, cooking gas and fuel across the country.
After Colombo declared a default on loans in April, US bank Hamilton Reserve, a holder of Sri Lankan bonds, filed a lawsuit in the US district court in Manhattan over the breach of contract.
Sri Lankans languish in long fuel and cooking gas queues as the government is unable to find dollars to fund imports.
Indian credit lines for fuel and essentials have provided lifelines until the ongoing talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) could lead to a possible bailout. There have been street protests in Sri Lanka against the government since early April due to its mishandling of the economic crisis.
On May 9, the political crisis saw the unleashing of violence with 10 people, including a parliamentarian, being killed. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa had to resign as prime minister amidst the political and economic turmoil.