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Cablegate: U.S.-Sponsored Quick Reaction Demining Force

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 002022

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR SA, SA/INS, PM, PM/HDP

NSC FOR E. MILLARD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PARM PHUM PREF KPAO EAID CE LTTE
SUBJECT: U.S.-sponsored Quick Reaction Demining Force
successfully completes operations in Sri Lanka

Refs: Colombo 1415, and previous

1. (U) This message is Sensitive but Unclassified --
Please handle accordingly.

2. (U) After approximately seven months of operations,
the U.S.-sponsored Quick Reaction Demining Force (QRDF)
has wrapped up its work in Sri Lanka. On October 24-25,
the QRDF turned over two plots of land cleared to
international humanitarian demining standards to GSL
authorities. (Note: The QRDF-demined land was the first
ever cleared in Sri Lanka to humanitarian mine clearance
standards.) The land was located in the Sarasalai area
of Jaffna near the war-torn town of Chavakachcheri. The
final figures for the QRDF demining operation were:

-- 122,348 square meters cleared
-- 980 anti-personnel mines removed
-- 42 pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO) removed

As part of the turnover, the QRDF gave the GSL about
USD 15,000 worth of generators, demining explosives, and
other items.

(Note: Mission is faxing SA/INS copies of the QRDF's
completion records, including a list of the items given
to the GSL.)

3. (SBU) The QRDF effort has received widespread
acclaim in Sri Lanka. It began its operations in April
in response to a specific request made by Prime Minister
Wickremesinghe to SA A/S Rocca during her March visit to
Jaffna. While performing practical work that is
allowing for the safe return of displaced persons to the
demined area, the QRDF became a symbol of U.S. support
for the peace process, engendering highly positive press
coverage for the U.S. in the process. Deputy Secretary
Armitage's widely publicized August visit to the QRDF's
demining site in Jaffna encapsulated all of these
positive threads. The U.S. has reaped these kudos all
to itself; despite repeated requests by the GSL, no
other country has pitched in to help in actual demining
other than the U.S. (Note: The UN demining effort
continues to tread water, while a HALO Trust operation
is just starting up.) With the QRDF's departure, the
next step in U.S. demining assistance is a large-scale
DoD-run training program for Sri Lankan military
personnel and civilians that is slated to start in early
2003. (Note: Mission has also requested FY-04 funds
for additional demining projects.)

4. (U) To commemorate the QRDF and outline next steps
in U.S. support, Mission plans to issue a press release
along the following lines on October 30:

BEGIN DRAFT TEXT:

U.S. DEMINING GROUP SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETES OPERATIONS

The U.S.-sponsored Quick Reaction Demining Force (QRDF)
has completed its work in Sri Lanka. On October 24-25,
the QRDF turned over two plots of land cleared of mines
and explosives to Sri Lankan government authorities.
The demined land was the first ever cleared in Sri Lanka
to humanitarian mine clearance standards, allowing
civilians to return to their land without fear. The
cleared land was located in the Sarasalai area of Jaffna
near the town of Chavakachcheri. The final figures for
the QRDF demining operation were:

- 122,348 square meters cleared to a humanitarian
standard
- 980 anti-personnel mines removed
- 42 pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO) removed

As part of the turnover, the QRDF provided about
USD 15,000 worth of items to Sri Lankan authorities for
use in its demining effort.
The U.S. remains fully committed to supporting
humanitarian mine clearance in Sri Lanka, which we see
as serving to reinforce the peace process. The next
step in U.S. demining assistance is establishment of a
humanitarian mine clearance training program for
Sri Lankan civilians and military personnel that is
scheduled to begin operations in early 2003.

END DRAFT TEXT.

5. (U) Minimize considered.

WILLS

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