US Assistance Secretary of State for Asia Robert Blake pays a curtsey call to President Rajapaksa
By Janaka Alahapperuma
Dec 10, 2009
Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia and Central Asia and former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Robert O’Blake paid a curtsey call to President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees last evening on 8th November.

This is for the first time an American high diplomat visited Sri Lanka officially, after eradicating Tamil Tiger Terrorism in May. Mr Blake’s visit to Sri Lanka was informed, after the announcement made by the Sri Lankan government that the people from the welfare centres could move freely.

Recently US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Report worried that USA was alienating Sri Lanka as the island, historically friendly to Washington, boosts ties with China along with pariah states in Western eyes such as Libya, Cuba, Myanmar and Iran. Report also warned that Washington risked losing Sri Lanka as it recovers from war. “Sri Lanka is at a critical juncture in its efforts to secure a lasting peace”, Senator John Kerry, the Chairman of the Committee said, in a statement to release the report. This surprise move came days before Mr Blake’s Sri Lanka trip.

Mr Blake visited Sri Lanka on a three day facts finding mission in connection with the resettlement of the displaced people who have been staying in the welfare camps. He visited the Manik Farm welfare centre and directly observed the present situation in Sri Lanka’s northern region. Mr Blake also toured the areas where badly affected by decades of brutal terrorism.

Former US Ambassador met the IDPs and inquired about the facilities provided by the authorities. He also monitored the resettlement of the displaced in their own villages and amazed over the facilities provided to such a large number. He was grateful to the Sri Lankan Government for giving the civilians in the Welfare Camps and those who had been resettled, an opportunity to lead happy and peaceful lives. Mr Blake has expressed satisfaction with the government’s resettlement programme and the new freedom of movement allowed.

Pix by: Nalin Hewapathirana