Burson-Marsteller has a $900K one-year deal to "launch an education and communications program to improve confidence in Sri Lanka among US-based investment and influencer community," according to its engagement letter.

Sri Lanka President
Mahinda Rajapaksa

Recent events such as tensions between the country's majority Buddhist population against Christians and Muslims, and the Indian Ocean rescue of Sri Lankan Tamils seeking asylum in Australia may have shaken some of that confidence.

Sri Lanka's government also is trying to defuse allegations of torture and abuse of former Tamil Tiger rebels in the aftermath of a long-running civil war.

The WPP unit also is charged with laying the groundwork to promote Sir Lanka as a business and travel destination. Its contract is through Beltway Government Strategies, which Sri Lanka used to scout for PA/government affairs representation in the US.

Washington-based Amit Khetarpaul, B-M's India-born managing director/international affairs, inked the contract with Beltway.

Mary Crawford, Robin Levy, William McQuillen and Devorah Goldburg also work the business.

A United Nations panel in Geneva today called on Sri Lanka to adopt measures to end faith-based violence and to prosecute those responsible for more than 500 attacks during the past two years.