By Easwaran Rutnam and Jamila Najmuddin
Minister for External Affairs G.L. Peiris, left a scheduled meeting with journalists at the National Press Club (NPC) in the US this morning (Thursday) without speaking, Tejinder Singh, Chair of the NPC Newsmakers Committee told Daily Mirror online a short while ago.
When contacted by Daily Mirror online to clarify a report that the Minister had left without addressing a scheduled meeting at the National Press Club (NPC) in the US this morning, Singh confirmed that Peiris did come for the meeting but left without speaking as scheduled.
“Yes he came but left. I don’t know why,” Singh said but could not comment further as he was on his way for a press briefing at the White House in Washington.
The National Press Club website had a note saying the Minister for External Affairs was to speak this morning on U.S. relations with Sri Lanka in a new era of peace and reconciliation.
When contacted by Daily Mirror online a Foreign Ministry official in Colombo also confirmed that the Minister had walked out of the scheduled meeting but was unaware of the reason behind the move.
“I suspect there may have been a last minute conflict of interest with the organizers of the event which forced the Minister to reconsider addressing the event. It’s anyway too early to speculate what may have taken place,” the Foreign Ministry official said.
Peiris was to speak on a variety of issues of interest to Sri Lanka and the United States as a precursor to his Friday meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a National Press Club Newsmaker press conference today in the Zenger Room, the National Press Building in Washington, DC.
Peiris was also to address the bilateral relations of his country with the U.S., especially in the context of last year’s Senate Foreign Relations report urging increased American political and economic engagement.
With one-year anniversary of Sri Lanka’s victory over terrorism, the minister offered to speak on the new era of peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, the National Press Club said.
The National Press Club has been a part of Washington life for over 100 years. Through its doors have come all of the Presidents of the United States since Theodore Roosevelt, as well as kings and queens, prime ministers, premiers, senators, congressmen, cabinet officials, ambassadors, scholars, entertainers, business leaders, and athletes. Its members have included all of the Presidents of the United States since Warren Harding and most have spoken from the Club's podium. (Daily Mirror online)