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Cablegate: Sri Lanka: Results of Colombo Plan November 20 Meeting

VZCZCXRO1229
RR RUEHPB
DE RUEHLM #1074 3330423
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 280423Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8985
INFO RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1002
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 2428
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 1163
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 0099
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 8162
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0616
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 1379
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 6378
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR 0356
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA 1560
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY 0017
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 0981
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 3660
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0829
RUEHSV/AMEMBASSY SUVA 0020
RUEHUM/AMEMBASSY ULAANBAATAR 0038
RUEHVN/AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE 0238
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0037
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 8811
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0056

UNCLAS COLOMBO 001074

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/INS AND IO/T

E.O 12958: N/A
TAGS: AORC CPCTC SNAR CPCTC UNODC CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: RESULTS OF COLOMBO PLAN NOVEMBER 20 MEETING

REF: SECSTATE 122193

1. (U) SUMMARY: At Colombo Plan's 262nd Council meeting on November
20, 2008, participating delegates deferred a decision on whether to
grant Burma a three-year moratorium on payment of the annual
membership fee and on two requests from Bangladesh to both have its
arrears waived and obtain a temporary exemption of the increased
annual membership fees. The USG agreed to serve on the Standing
Committee on Administrative and Financial Matters for 2008/2009.
Participants agreed to invite Brunei as a provisional member of
Colombo Plan. End Summary.

2. (U) The primary agenda of the meeting was to determine whether to
grant Burma's request for a three-year moratorium on payment of the
annual membership fee, as well as Bangladesh's requests to have its
arrears waived and to have temporary exemption from the increased
annual membership fees. Econoff presented reftel points opposing
these requests. No consensus was reached at the meeting.
Representatives from Sri Lanka, Japan, Indonesia and South Korea
recommended that Colombo Plan work with the two countries to either
accept a moratorium and/or establish an installment plan. The
Ambassador of Nepal suggested that the Council should establish
criterion on which that the decision be based. Thailand, Pakistan,
Maldives and Pakistan had no objections, and India was awaiting
guidance from its government. Participants agreed that Colombo Plan
Secretary General (SecGen) Patricia Chia should discuss other
payment options with the Bangladeshi and Burmese representatives,
and that the final decision should be made at the next Council
meeting in January 2009.

3. (U) Although not in the agenda, the Japanese representative
presented a statement from his government highlighting GOJ concerns
on the use of member financial contributions to Colombo Plan. Prior
to the meeting, members were copied on a letter sent by the Japanese
Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the SecGen, requesting additional
information on the organization's spending plans for the increased
member contributions. Since the initial letter, the SecGen and GOJ
have exchanged a series of additional letters. The SecGen, who was
given a copy of the Japanese statement presented at the meeting,
presented her arguments regarding each the Japanese concerns. The
SecGen deferred discussion of the concerns by the Japanese
government to the next Council meeting. Post will continue to send
scanned copies of the correspondence to IO/T.

4. (U) Standing Committee: Econoff delivered reftel point and
agreed that the U.S. will participate as a member of the Standing
Committee on Administrative and Financial Matters for 2008/2009.
Other invited members that confirmed their participation were Sri
Lanka, Bangladesh, and Malaysia; India's acceptance is pending New
Delhi's approval. The first standing committee meeting will be held
on January 8, 2009.

5. (U) Other matters: SecGen informed the meeting that nine
nominations have been submitted for the position of the Director of
the Drug Advisory Program (DAP). Due to the lack of qualifications
among nominees, however, Colombo Plan agreed to extend the deadline
for DAP nominations to January 2, 2009. Separately, all
participants agreed to admit Brunei as a provisional member.

6. (U) The next Colombo Plan Council meeting is scheduled for
January 15, 2009, and will be chaired by the newly-elected President
of the Colombo Plan, Ambassador to Thailand Thinakorn Kanasuta.
Post will advise the provisional agenda prior to both the council
and standing committee meetings.

BLAKE

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