President Rajapaksa has returned home after the completion of a successful official visit to New York. The President left the island on the 19th of this month to New York to participate in the 66th sessions of the UN General Assembly. The President, First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa and his entourage were warmly welcomed on arrival at the John F. Kennedy Airport by a group led by Dr. Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN. The UN Sessions were attended by State leaders and representatives of 193 countries. The Sessions were held from the 21st to the 24th of this month.
The President participated in the Clinton Global Initiative in New York on the 20th of this month. Appreciating the presence of the Sri Lankan Leader, former President Bill Clinton warmly greeted him. On the same afternoon, the President had bilateral discussions with his Kyrgyzstan, Slovenia and Nigerian counterparts. It was on the same day that US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake met him for talks. The President had talks with many state leaders on the 21st. They included the Prime Minister of Nepal, the Colombian President and the Iranian President. He received the opportunity of meeting three more state leaders the following day. They were the Emir of Kuwait, The Vice President of Uganda and the Palestinian President. During all these conversations, the President appraised them about Sri Lanka’s economic achievements, the trade and investment opportunities available within the country and the current situation in the North and the east. The President earned their acclamation for the victories achieved by Sri Lanka within a short period of routing terrorism. The Sri Lanka leader was able to have more friendly links with many new States during this visit.
Delivering his address at the UN Sessions on the 23rd of this month, the President said world leaders should draw attention to the security of not only Sri Lanka but in general to all developing countries. The battle for achieving peace is as difficult as the struggle against terrorism. Terrorism presents a threat from which not even the wealthiest and most powerful of nations are immune He said it must be remembered, as well, that terrorists groups frequently operate under the guise of front organizations. Conferring legitimacy on these has the inevitable effect of providing comfort and encouragement to the merchants of terror.
On the same afternoon, the President had bilateral discussions with Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. Both leaders took cognizance of many issues important to the two countries as well as the region. The same evening the Vice President of the Maldives Mohamed Waheed Hassan and the Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma met the President for discussions. US Congress members Caroline B. Maloni and Robert Adar Hop met the President and had a cordial discussion. Later on the 24th the President met UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon for discussions. During this meeting, the President drew the attention of the UN Chief to the dispatch of the Darusman Report to Navaneethan Pillai, the Human Rights Commissioner without informing Sri Lankan delegation in New York or the Sri Lanka Government. The President expressed his concern for not adhering to the normal procedures. He pointed out that this would have some impact on the trustworthiness of the UN. The UN Chief accepted that fact that there had been some shortcoming in the communication. The President said that security of the nation is being strengthened in the post conflict era and terrorism will not be permitted to raise its head. The President’s entourage included Ministers Prof. G.L. Peiris and Anura Pryadarshana Yapa, Parliamentarian Sajin Vaas Gunawadena, President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunge and Presidential Chief of Staff Gamini Senarath.