United States President Donald Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives hopes to advance U.S. values for a stable, rules-based regional order in South Asia.
Testifying before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations at confirmation hearing, nominee for Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Alaina Teplitz said if confirmed, she will work with both island nations in Indian Ocean to “advance U.S. values and a shared vision of good governance, transparent economic development, free navigation and commerce, fair and open investment environments, and a stable, rules-based regional order.”
Teplitz is a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor and currently serves as the Ambassador to Nepal. She has been posted to Bangladesh and Afghanistan previously and also to the South and Central Asia Bureau.
The Ambassador nominee said the previous assignments in South Asia and as the current envoy to Nepal have provided her a foundation of understanding about the culture, history, and unique geopolitics of South Asia and she will continue to build on this experience to carry out her duties as Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives, if confirmed.
Speaking about the two island nations, Teplitz said Sri Lanka and Maldives are important to the wider security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.
Noting that both nations are positioned astride key shipping lanes that connect the Straits of Hormuz and Malacca, the free navigation of which is vital to U.S. economic and security interests, the Ambassador nominee said the U.S. must also be mindful of the economic and commercial opportunities each country affords, and the importance of working with them to maintain a rules-based international order.
She told the Senate Committee that Sri Lanka has come a long way since voters in 2015 rejected the corruption, strife, and repression of the past and threw their support behind a reform, reconciliation, and accountability agenda.
However, the pace of progress on reform and justice has been slow, and, as anti-Muslim riots in March so painfully demonstrated, the work of mending inter-ethnic and inter-religious fissures remains incomplete, Teplitz said.
“We continue to support Sri Lanka’s efforts to make good on its commitments to its people to come to terms with its past, implement justice and accountability measures, and secure a peaceful, prosperous future. We also support growth of Sri Lanka’s capacity to make greater contributions to regional stability while protecting its own sovereignty and national interests. Sri Lanka’s success in this endeavor will make it a stronger partner to the United States and contribute to our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
“If confirmed, I will work in both Sri Lanka and Maldives to advance U.S. values and a shared vision of good governance, transparent economic development, free navigation and commerce, fair and open investment environments, and a stable, rules-based regional order,” Ambassador Teplitz said.
If the Senate confirms her appointment, Teplitz will be replacing the current Ambassador Atul Keshap, who began his tenure as the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives in August 2015.