On August 17, just a few months after the election of Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena, Sri Lankan voters confirmed their support for a broad-based national unity government with Prime Minister Ranil Wickramesinghe at its head. By decisively rejecting former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s comeback bid, voters also validated the new government’s foreign policy orientation and opened the way for a greater rapprochement with the West. In May, U.S. Secretary John Kerry became the first United States secretary of state to visit Colombo in over a decade. However, much more must be done to rebuild the U.S.-Sri Lanka relationship. Ambassador Kariyawasam discussed the future of U.S.-Sri Lanka relations. Carnegie’s Frederic Grare moderated.
Prasad Kariyawasam, ambassador for Sri Lanka to United States and ambassador (designate) to Mexico, joined the Sri Lanka Foreign Service in 1981. He has held diplomatic assignments in Geneva, Riyadh, Washington, New Delhi, and New York. He is also the permanent observer of Sri Lanka to the Washington-based Organization of American States. In his last assignment as the high commissioner for Sri Lanka to India, and was concurrently accredited as the ambassador for Sri Lanka to Bhutan and Afghanistan. From 1998 to 2001 he served as the deputy high commissioner for Sri Lanka in India, holding the rank of an ambassador. In Geneva, from 2001 to 2004 he served as ambassador and permanent representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, while also holding the positions of consul general of Sri Lanka to Switzerland, personal representative of the head of state of Sri Lanka to the G-15 and ambassador of Sri Lanka to the Holy See in the Vatican. He has also served as the high commissioner of Sri Lanka to Jamaica and The Bahamas, as well as ambassador of Sri Lanka to Chile and Colombia.
Frederic Grare is senior associate and director of Carnegie’s South Asia Program. His research focuses on South Asian security issues and the search for a security architecture. He also works on India’s “Look East” policy, Afghanistan and Pakistan’s regional policies, and the tension between stability and democratization, including civil-military relations, in Pakistan.