Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera today rejected the news reports that had been published in some news websites, which alleged he had spent time with a young man at a luxurious New York hotel during his recent trip to the US.
Responding to an inquiry made by the Colombo Telegraph, the Minister’s office has sent the following statement, concerning the reports in news sites that claim the ‘young man’ with whom he is having a relationship is his Public Relations Officer, Sameera Manahara.
Following is his statement on the matter:
“The forces of darkness, thought to have been defeated along with the Rajapaksa regime on the 8th of January, are beginning to raise their ugly heads again. A smear campaign against selected members of the Sirisena administration has started, and yet again I too have become a victim of such slander.
Therefore, I place the following facts regarding my recent visit to the United States on the public record.
1. I visited the United States of America for an official visit between the 10th and 13th of February. This visit was part of the new government’s strategy to win many of Sri Lanka’s friends in the international community who had been alienated as a result of the Rajapaksa regime’s disastrous foreign policy.
2. After meeting Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior U.S. officials of the Obama administration during a two and a half day whirlwind visit to Washington D.C., I arrived in New York by train on the early afternoon of the 13th. I had talks with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, that afternoon.
3. I also met the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, before departing from the hotel at around 6.30 pm to fly to New Delhi for the state visit of President Sirisena to India.
4. All hotels used during my official visits are booked by the relevant missions. And I have mentioned to the relevant officials not to book ostentatious and extravagant hotels like the Waldorf-Astoria in New York and the Dorchester in London where members of the Rajapaksa regime resided during their travels.
5. Having known the schedule in advance it is also a mystery why two nights were booked by the Sri Lankan mission in New York.
6. On my official trips abroad I take one member of my personal staff from the Minister’s Bureau. They travel economy class unless upgraded complementarily by the airline. During this visit the Public Relations Officer, Sameera Manahara, travelled with me .
7. Manahara was also my Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Ports and Aviation between 2004 and 2007. During my seven years in the Opposition he was one of my principal coordinators and campaign managers.
8. Manahara is the happily married father of a beautiful baby girl.