Skip to Content

Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2521

US Envoy to Sri Lanka Butenis indicates she’ll speak her mind in Colombo

[caption id="attachment_4015" align="alignright" width="457" caption="United States ambassador-designate to Sri Lanka Patricia Butenis "]United States ambassador-designate to Sri Lanka Patricia Butenis [/caption]

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent Asian Tribune

Washington, D.C. 13 August (Asiantribune.com): United States ambassador-designate to Sri Lanka Patricia Butenis did not conceal the obvious when she met Sri Lanka envoy to Washington Jaliya Wickremasuriya that she has a reputation of blunt diplomatic expression.

If three Asian Tribune reports exposing her interference in the internal affairs of Bangladesh almost turning that country a U.S. client state when she was ambassador there would mellow her approach when in Colombo she gave Wickremasuriya the impression that she is a tough nut to crack when she said “I go to Colombo as a friend,” and as, “someone who has a reputation for speaking candidly, though I hope diplomatically."

And, Ms. Butenis while in Bangladesh never had the reputation of diplomatic approach to thorny issues instead was giving lectures and directives in bold language how Bangladeshis should run that country.

Asian Tribune in three exposures in May and June alerted Sri Lanka the credentials she earned in Bangladesh as a “someone who has a reputation for speaking candidly.” When she added “though I hope diplomatically” she herself was not sure whether the language and phrases she selects in Colombo would be ‘diplomatic’.

Sri Lanka Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya Wednesday August 12 welcomed Patricia Butenis, the United States’ newly-confirmed Ambassador-designate to Sri Lanka, as she prepares to take charge of the U.S. Embassy in Colombo end of this month.

Ambassador Wickramasuriya and Ambassador-designate Butenis spoke cordially and extensively about the post-conflict situation in Sri Lanka during a meeting at the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington. The talks included a discussion of the condition of the 280,000 people displaced by the successfully concluded conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE.

Before Ms. Butenis leaves for Colombo end of this month she has been afforded the opportunity to meet the U.S.-based organizations representing members of the Tamil Diaspora.

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake and U.S. Chargé d’Affaires in Sri Lanka James Moore met with 16 representatives of U.S.-based organizations representing members of the Tamil Diaspora to discuss the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka and prospects for political reconciliation on August 11 at the State Department in Washington.

Assistant Secretary Blake and Chargé Moore welcomed the opportunity to listen to the concerns and perspectives of the American Tamil Diaspora community and to share the steps the United States is taking to address the humanitarian crisis.

While the Government of Sri Lanka has made some progress easing camp congestion, registering IDPs, and expanding access by humanitarian organizations, much remains to be done, Assistant Secretary Blake and Chargé Moore said. The United States is urging the safe and speedy return of IDPs, continued access for international humanitarian organizations, and the registration and provision of national identification cards to IDPs, to help promote freedom of movement.

Assistant Secretary Blake and Chargé Moore underscored the importance of political reconciliation. The U.S. has stressed to the government that to achieve a lasting peace, it must promote justice and political reconciliation for all parties, dialogue with all parties, including Tamils inside and outside Sri Lanka on new mechanisms for devolving power, and improve human rights. Assistant Secretary Blake and Chargé Moore recommended that the Government of Sri Lanka and the American Tamil Diaspora community seek opportunities to engage one another on political reconciliation and the reconstruction of Sri Lanka.

Assistant Secretary Blake and Chargé Moore concluded by saying that they would like to continue the dialogue with the Diaspora community and urged participants to continue to share feedback.

The discussion took place at the State Department with Chargé Moore through a digital video conference at the U.S. Embassy in Colombo.

This was the second occasion the State Department officials met with U.S.-based Tamil Diaspora to discuss the situation in Sri Lanka within four months. The last meeting took place in the first week of April at the State Department when Richard Boucher was Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Bureau with the participation of Robert Blake when he was ambassador in Colombo.

As the August 11 meeting the April 08 meeting was initiated by the head of the Columbus, Ohio-based Americans For Peace in Sri Lanka headed by a Tamil technocrat Elias Jeyarajah.

The following US Diaspora groups were represented at both meetings: Americans for Peace in Sri Lanka, Federation of Tamil Associations of North America, HELP Advocates Sri Lanka, Ilankai Tamil Sangam, North Carolinians For Peace, People for Equality and Relief in Lanka, Tamils Against Genocide, Tamils of California, Tamils of New England, Tamils of Ohio, and World Thamil Organization - USA.

U.S. ambassador-designate to Sri Lanka Patricia Butenis was well briefed at the State Department following the Tamil Diaspora meetings with Boucher, Blake and Dr. Susan Rice the Asian Tribune understands.

Meanwhile the State Department spokesman Assistant Secretary Philip J. Crowley at August 11 briefing said: “we’ve sent a number of emissaries to Sri Lanka. We continue to encourage the government to address the humanitarian needs of those who have been affected by the recent conflict, and we’ll continue to press that case with the Sri Lankan Government.”

- Asian Tribune -

Share this


.