In reaction to CJ removal, is U.S. re-thinking future aid to Sri Lanka?
Apart from the comments by U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland on the third consecutive day Wednesday, 16 January responding to Sri Lanka's removal of her chief justice, the State Department official web portal on its lead page gave an unusual highlight to Sri Lanka which it never gave before: 'US Aid to Sri Lanka'.
The State Department web site, in its lead news item, gave the link to what Ms. Nuland said on that day to the foreign and domestic media at the daily media briefing in Washington.
When asked if the removal of the chief justice would affect United States assistance to Sri Lanka the spokesperson Nuland said "We did look into the assistance situation".
This was highlighted as the main news story in the official web portal making attack on the Syrian university, situation in Male and other issues closer to American public diplomacy secondary.
The Wednesday media briefing at the State Department discussed vital issues such as Indo-Pakistan internal squabbles, internal situation in Pakistan, situation in Egypt, Israel-Palestinian issue etc., but the State Department official web site posted 'US aid to Sri Lanka issue' as its main story.
The question is: Is the United States giving a message to Sri Lanka? Or a 'trial balloon' ?
Spokesperson Victoria Nuland, also holding the position of assistant under secretary of public affairs and public diplomacy, declared at the Washington media briefing when asked if the department "received any response from the Sri Lankan Government explaining why did it take such a measure", said "We are obviously in contact with them. I would not say that the explanations are satisfactory in terms of protecting democracy".
Three straight days the State Department has been raising issues connected to rule of law, independence of the judiciary, governance, democratic norms in response to the impeachment and the removal of Sri Lanka's chief justice.
At the news briefing Ms. Nuland erroneously said 'billions' instead of 'millions' attached to the aid figure.
Ms. Nuland handles overseas public affairs, public diplomacy and strategic communication for the Secretary of State and the Obama administration.
Here is the complete text of Wednesday, 16 January media briefing on the issue of the removal of the chief justice, aid to Sri Lanka and 'unsatisfactory explanation' according to the spokesperson.
Question: The chief justice issue, do you have anything to add to it? The new chief justice has taken over. And following from yesterday’s question, would it have any impact on the U.S. aid to Sri Lanka?
M.S.Nuland: We talked about the successor yesterday. We did look into the assistance situation. Just for your records, U.S. Government assistance for FY2012 for Sri Lanka was $27 million. This included 13.3 million in bilateral assistance programs which primarily related to peace and security, human rights, economic growth, and democracy programs. We have a 2013 request for 16.5 billion for Sri Lanka in the same – million, million, what did I say?
M.S.Nuland: Million. In bilateral assistance for Sri Lanka. Frankly, Lalit, I will say that it is too soon to say what impact the actions will have on our foreign assistance for Sri Lanka going forward.
Question: And have you received any response from the Sri Lankan Government explaining why did it take such a measure?
M.S.Nuland: We are obviously in contact with them. I would not say that the explanations are satisfactory in terms of protecting democracy.
Question: Just so we’re clear, when you say the actions, you mean specifically the impeachment of the chief justice?
M.S.Nuland: Correct, correct.
Question: Thank you.
- Asian Tribune -