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US to assist vocational training

The US is interested in furthering co-operation with Sri Lanka on a number of sectors including economic, commercial, governance, security, and development. This was stated by US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina Teplitz at a meeting with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees Monday (17) evening.

At the outset, Teplitz congratulated the Prime Minister on what she described as a “very very successful campaign with very significant results”. Noting that the election was conducted in a free, fair, and peaceful manner, she said the results showed the “rejection of the previous administration”.

“We look forward to working with the (new) Government,” the US Ambassador said.

Asked about the new Government’s priorities, Rajapaksa said that economic recovery is currently the main priority due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Teplitz said that “the Government certainly is to be commended for its success” in handling the Covid-19 outbreak, calling it “a big success story”. She further said that the Sri Lanka-US economic relationship is also a priority for the US, including help with generating new job opportunities for Sri Lankans in the private sector.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa also suggested that the US could provide assistance to Sri Lanka to establish vocational training centres around the country to better prepare the youth for job opportunities. “There are many opportunities, especially with the strong advantage Sri Lanka has with a well-educated labour force,” Teplitz said.

Discussing the development sector, the Prime Minister informed the US Ambassador that certain sectors of the population and certain areas of the country are lacking basic facilities. He highlighted the need for safe drinking water in certain parts of the country, also noting that unsafe drinking water is a major cause of chronic kidney disease.

Other areas discussed during the meeting included bringing in new investments to Sri Lanka, support for democratic institutions and governance-related projects, and co-operation in the security sector with a specific focus on counterterrorism, trafficking of people and narcotics, and addressing transnational crime.