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Posted at: Feb 10, 2016, 1:02 PM; last updated: Feb 10, 2016, 1:02 PM (IST)

US govt proposes $31 million aid to Sri Lanka

Washington, February 10

The US government has proposed a $31 million financial aid to Sri Lanka to encourage reconciliation efforts and support anti-corruption activities as the Island nation is undertaking major reforms after the historic political transition.

"Following the historic political transition after Presidential and Parliamentary elections in 2015, US assistance to Sri Lanka has entered a new era," said the budgetary proposals sent by US Secretary of State John Kerry to the Congress in which he proposed USD 31 million for Sri Lanka as part of New Silk Road and Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor initiatives.

Kerry has proposed a $31 million financial assistance to this island nation for the fiscal 2016-2017, beginning October 1 this year.

In fiscal 2017, US assistance will be used to strengthen governance, democratic reform, and the rule of law by promoting and protecting human rights, strengthening justice sector institutions, and supporting civil society organisations, the State Department said.

The resources will also be used to encourage reconciliation efforts and support anti-corruption activities – key foci as the government undertakes major reforms during this political transition, the State Department said.

"To help increase economic stability, US assistance will also work to improve economic governance and growth, while supporting livelihoods and promoting trade," it said.

President Maithripala Sirisena, 64, came to power last January with the backing of Sri Lanka's minority Tamils and Muslims in addition to the majority Sinhalese on the back of promises to ensure ethnic reconciliation and end the corruption and nepotism of his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sirisena has won praise for starting to hand back land after the end of one of South Asia's longest and bloodiest ethnic wars, pitting the government against Tamil separatists.

But he is also under international pressure to do more to ensure reconciliation in the ethnically divided nation. — PTI

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