President Reagan. Mr. President, Mrs. Jayewardene, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen, it's a special pleasure to have you with us. Sri Lankan leaders, including yourself, Mr. President, have been to our country before. Tonight, however, is the first time that a Sri Lankan chief of state has been an official guest at the White House. It's our honor to have you with us, and Nancy and I hope your visit will be followed by many more.
Our talks this morning reflected the cordial and cooperative relationship which exists between our two democracies. When your government was first elected in 1977, Mr. President, Americans were excited by your bold program for economic development. And you've led your country in a new direction, and by doing so, you've created new opportunities for your people and expanded the potential of every Sri Lankan.
The accelerated Mahaweli River project is part of your effort, as is freeing the Sri Lankan economy from the controls and red tape that stifled progress and economic expansion. One innovation of particular interest to me, Mr. President, is the creation of a free trade zone. This practical approach to development with its open market is attracting investment and unleashing the energy of the private sector. And I hope those over on Capitol Hill who claim enterprise zones won't work here in our country will take notice of the progress that you've made.
We in the United States are happy that we've been able to contribute to your progress. Our Agency for International Development is working with you in the river program and encouraging Sri Lanka's private enterprise sector. With the incentives that you now offer to investors, your country is attracting business and capturing the attention of American entrepreneurs and investors. And I think we can look forward to growing cooperation between our governments and our people on many levels.
U.S..-Sri Lankan cooperation comes in many forms. Last year the Peace Corps began a program to assist in the upgrading of Sri Lanka's English language teaching skills. And today we signed a science and technology agreement which provides an umbrella for increased collaboration. And we look forward to the early completion of negotiating on a tax treaty and on a bilateral investment treaty. All this reflects the extraordinary relationship that we're building, a relationship of trust and trade that will benefit both our peoples.
Mr. President, we understand Sri Lanka's choice, as a small developing country, to remain nonaligned in matters of foreign policy. We respect genuine nonalignment. Your country consistently has been a forceful voice for reason and moderation in nonaligned councils. Your strong opposition to unprovoked aggression in Afghanistan and Kampuchea has swelled the international chorus calling for restoration of independence for these two brutalized countries. We hope that Sri Lanka will remain a strong moral force in world politics.
And today, Mr. President, we came to know one another better and to understand more fully our objectives and concerns. Your visit has undoubtedly strengthened the bond between our two countries, and it's laid a basis for even closer, more cooperative relations between Sri Lanka and the United States in the future.
And finally, Mr. President, I'd like to thank you again for the elephant— [laughter] —a magnificent present that you gave us today. The elephant happens to be the symbol of the President's po ...
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