The Government yesterday stressed that the U.S embassy as any other foreign mission based in Colombo should get prior approval to engage with local government authorities.
According to External Affairs Ministry Secretary Dr. Karunathilake Amunugama, foreign missions should either inform or get prior approval to implement any project in agreement with the local government authorities.
“This is an international norm,” he said.
The Secretary’s comments came in the wake of the U.S. embassy move to set up a public information and activity centre known as the American Corner in agreement with the Trincomalee Urban Council.
The Agreement with regard to the establishment of this centre was signed by officials of the U.S embassy in Colombo and the Trincomalee Urban Council on May 22, without the knowledge of External Affairs Ministry.
The Extertanal Affairs Ministry Secretary said that he would call in the mission officials in order to obtain the details of the agreement and the plan to set up such an information centre in the country. He said that he will raise this issue with the mission officials and ask for ‘show cause’ as to why they failed inform the Ministry before the establishment of such a centre.
The signatories to the agreement were Christopher Teal, Director Press Cultural and Educational Affairs of the US Embassy in Colombo and Trincomalee UC Chairman K Selvarajah.
Meanwhile, US embassy spokesman and Director Press Cultural and Educational Affairs Christopher Teal told the Daily News that the embassy has put up these information centres in Kandy and Jaffna without any prior approval from the External Affairs Ministry.,
He said that the same process was adopted for the establishment of the American Corner at the Trincomalee Public library.
“The purpose of setting up of these information centres are to provide vital information to the people particularly the student population in the East”, he said.
Teal added that the mission is contemplating setting up such a Centre in the south soon.