Sri Lanka: Grab the extended hand of Ed Royce, the new US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman
The newly convened 113th US House of Representatives, continued to be controlled by the Republican Party, installed the Republican congressman from California Ed Royce as the chairman of the most powerful Foreign Relations Committee for next two years. Mr. Royce is no stranger to Sri Lankan issues.
He subscribed to a carefully-worded but far-reaching letter with another eleven Members addressed to President Barack Obama dated February 3, 2012 which underscored the importance of strengthening relations between the two countries.
The incoming Secretary of State John Kerry as chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee in his committee's report on Sri Lanka in December 2009 expressed similar sentiments.
Subscribing to the February 3 communication to the president the following May Congressman Ed Royce met with Sri Lanka's external affairs minister Prof. G.L.Pieris in Washington when the latter visited the capital to meet with state department officials and many other congressmen.
But what's most significant is Congressman Ed Royce subscribed to the February 3 letter to Mr. Obama which was devoid of rhetoric, insinuations, aspersions instead stressed the importance of establishing closer and mutually understanding relationship between the two nations.
The letter addressed to the US president, Frank Pellone who is co-chairman of the Sri Lanka-America Congressional Caucus leading the twelve-Member group, is unusually different to other previous letters addressed by other congressmen to the White house and Secretary of State Clinton.
There seems to be no 'Tiger Claws' in the letter. That was the most interesting, and that is the reason that Sri Lanka should be encouraged to maintain a closer rapport with the new Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee Ed Royce.
Assuming his responsibility as the chairman, Mr. Royce addressing the new members of the committee on January 3 said: “I welcome the new Members joining the Committee, their diverse backgrounds and skills will be an invaluable resource. The Committee will address some of the gravest threats facing our nation – at the top of our list, tackling Iran’s nuclear program. The Committee will also work to boost U.S. economic growth overseas, provide effective oversight of the Administration’s foreign policies, give a greater focus to Asia, respond to security threats and new governments in the Middle East, and provide aggressive oversight of foreign aid. I look forward to working with all members of the Committee to meet these challenges and to protect America abroad.”
Among others, Chairman Ed Royce said his committee will "give a greater focus to Asia."
Here is the letter to which Congressman Ed Royce was a signatory with another eleven Members. It is a carefully worded one extending the American hand to Sri Lanka with optimism, and underscoring the necessity of strengthening the relationship with a signal to Sri Lanka for reciprocal action, and highlighting that " For the first time in more than a generation, the United States has an opportunity to develop a relationship with a united Sri Lanka. Accordingly, we urge your administration to take steps to strengthen out ties with Sri Lanka."
(Begin Text) We are writing in support of a strong United States-Sri Lanka partnership. After three decades of internal strife, Sri Lanka has an opportunity to move forward as a unified nation guided by its democratic ideals and institutions. The United States and Sri Lanka have a proud history of mutual commitment, and we believe that strong American support can have a significant mutual benefit and positive influence on Sri Lanka's future economic and social prosperity.
In post-conflict Sri Lanka, we are encouraged by significant progress in resettling almost all of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons and providing family reunification, vocational training and job placement for those Sri Lankans. In addition, wee encouraged by the ongoing negotiations with minority political parties and strengthening of the democratic process. We welcome Sri Lanka's willingness to preemptively report on its civil conflict by establishing a politically diverse and independent Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. As Sri Lanka pursues these positive steps, it should know it has friend in the United States.
A strong relationship between the United States and Sri Lanka supports economic prosperity in areas of trade, job creation and foreign direct investments. Of particular note, we understand that Sri Lanka has opened dialogues with number of U.S. companies for the acquisition of heavy equipment, aircrafts, energy technologies and other products necessary for its development efforts. In addition, we look forward to opportunities to strengthen our mutual strategic interests in foreign policy and defense by maintaining peace in the waterways near and along the Indian Ocean and continuing a military training partnership.
For the first time in more than a generation, the United States has an opportunity to develop a relationship with a united Sri Lanka. Accordingly, we urge your administration to take steps to strengthen out ties with Sri Lanka. (End Text)
What strikes in that letter is the final paragraph.
Ed Royce is a veteran congressman who is in the House for twenty years. In the just concluded 112th Congress, Royce serves as a senior member of two important Committees in the House:
Foreign Affairs and Financial Services. As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Royce has been named Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade; member of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.
As an active member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Royce is known for his knowledge of many different regions of the world and analytical foresight into key U.S. foreign policy issues.
As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, Royce is at the forefront of some of the most important issues facing the United States. The Subcommittee explores issues including the threat posed by Islamist terrorism, especially the al-Qaeda network; terrorist financing and illegal procurement of military weapons by such organizations like Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers; terrorist sanctuaries and failed states; and capacity building of foreign forces to fight terrorism. The Subcommittee's jurisdiction over nonproliferation issues is crucial given the severity of the threat of weapons of mass destruction falling into terrorist hands.
Combining his work on both the Financial Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, Royce is a recognized leader in Congress on anti-terrorism finance issues. He is a founding member and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Anti-Terror Finance Task Force, which seeks to strengthen efforts to fight against the funding of terrorism. He was well aware of the FBI crack down on LTTE front organization Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) and the US Treasury Department black listing it long before the LTTE was defeated in Sri Lanka in 2009.
Which is why Congressman Royce is quite knowledgeable about the Tamil Tigers and the movements overseas activities, especially in the U.S.
- Asian Tribune -