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Cablegate: Media Play - 4/14 Washington Conference -

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 000682

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR D, INR/R/MR, I/RW, I/REC; PA
SA/INS(FOR JWALLER); SA/PD (FOR LJIRWIN, LSCENSNY,
WREINCKENS); SSA/PAB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR OIIP CE LTTE
SUBJECT: MEDIA PLAY - 4/14 WASHINGTON CONFERENCE -
PART II (4/18-4/21)


1. On April 14 Deputy Secretary Armitage hosted an
international conference on Sri Lanka for representatives
of 21 countries and 16 international organizations who
gathered to discuss Sri Lanka's peace negotiations, and
international assistance for the Island's development and
reconstruction. Last week's Sri Lankan press coverage was
plentiful. From 4/18 to 4/21 headlines slackened, but
post-holiday Sinhala weekender editorial coverage was
supportive. Three Sinhala papers editorialized, one
optimistic about the Washington Conference, two endorsing
Armitage's statements regarding the need for the LTTE to
change. Major independent and opposition English Sunday
papers ran opinion pieces echoing similar themes.

-----
Newspapers.
-----

2. The week's earlier splashy headlines slowed, but
government owned Sinhala weekly Sunday SILUMINA weighed in
on its front page with "Richard Armitage's statement
commended." Article excerpts:
"Many organizations have commended RA's statement which
said that LTTE should renounce terrorism if they want
peace...."

"Chief Incumbent of Los Angeles Vihara Ven. Dr.
Dhammalankaara also said that LTTE should make use of this
opportunity..."

"The Deputy State Sec. has said that LTTE is not happy
about their not being invited to Washington....US stance is
clear...."

-----
Editorials.
-----

3. Under the headline "Let's make the most of the New Year
gift" the independent Sinhala SUNDAY LANKADEEPA stressed
the need to act promptly yet cautiously with the
international community in regards to peace and
reconstruction of the war-torn country. Excerpts:

"Unlike in other donor conferences, there have been no
critics. Sri Lanka has never before been offered such a
gigantic sum. Hats off to Minister Milinda Moragoda for
convincing the decision makers of twenty-five richest
countries and organizations in the world. "

"Why did they agree? They scrutinized the peace process
and contemplated the well-being of the disadvantaged
communities in Sri Lanka."

"All ethnicities in the country suffered with terrorism and
wrong economic and social policies."

"There have been external and internal factors toward
negative economic growth. For the country to recover we
need help of the international community. But that alone
is not adequate."

"We have a lot of displaced people wasting time in refugee
camps. These people could be very productive and are an
important part of the country's labor force. Hence they
should be appropriately deployed. Resettlement is
essential with appropriate infrastructure. Here comes
another important constraint - landmines. Without de-
mining, resettlement and rehabilitation is impossible."

"It's a Herculean task. That's why we need foreign
assistance. In Sri Lanka's development, the South is as
important as the North, so are the Tiger border villages.
Some say economic and social development should wait until
total peace is achieved - they don't trust LTTE. They
think democracy should be brought in the North. But that
can that be done with one stroke of the pen?"

"We need to act fast."

4. Under the headline "Armitage's speech on Tigers" the
independent Sinhala weekly LAKBIMA focused on the US's
continued ban on the LTTE. It also noted that while it
disagreed with the US on the Iraq issue, "our anti-American
stance would by no means prevent us from endorsing American
opinion on the Tigers." Excerpts:

"Although Washington aid has been allocated to
rehabilitate North and East, Tigers were not invited to
Washington conference. That was despite their
strong expression of the need to attend same. They were so
strong in their request said that they would not even
attend the Tokyo peace talks if they weren't invited to
Washington. But Washington did not care..."

"Why-LTTE had been listed as a terrorist organization in
USA. If they would let the organization attend a high
profile conference officially they would be overlooking
that ban."
"That is the very reason why Tigers badly wanted to attend
the Washington conference. And that is why US was careful
enough not to let them in."

"In his speech, RA said that any good reason was not
seen why they would lift the Tiger ban. He also said that
until the Tigers would show in word and deed their wish to
renounce terrorism that they would not do so."

"If his statement was not clear to anyone - well he said
that they have still not renounced terrorism...."

"The fact that the foreign policy of US has been largely
confusing to us in third world countries. "

"We thoroughly criticised US in the Iraq issue. Even after
Iraq had collapsed, we remain in the same stance. That is
because we do not believe in intervening in the sovereignty
of an individual country. Our anti American stance then,
would by no means prevent us from endorsing American
opinion on the Tigers."

"Information we receive is valid evidence as to LTTE is a
terrorist organisation and still they have not renounced
terrorism. Our news updates have been proving that. "

"We should not forget that LTTE has entered truce and have
been maintaining that for so long. But we should not be
too quick to take the pet Tigers on to our lap to fondle."

5. Under the headline "Can't LTTE change?" the independent
Sinhala SUNDAY DIVAINA supported Armitage's view of the
LTTE as a terrorist organization, and the need for it to
change "by word and deed." It also pointed out that a
person of Armitage's status said what "no one" in Sri Lanka
will say, lest they be labeled anti-peace. Excerpts:

"We fully endorse the analysis of R Armitage... it is
extremely fair and right. It says.... America is watchful
on LTTE activities...should renounce terrorism....America
looks forward to seeing LTTE acting as a genuine political
party....But LTTE has not changed"

"This US statement have disappointed tigers and their hero-
worshippers like SLMM and certain NGOs... Its only Richard
Armitage of America but no small fry could make such a
statement....if somebody else made this statement he would
be labeled as an anti peace person... no one would dare to
say that RA spoke as per tips of the extremists in the
South...and moreover, RA is not naive"

"Our stance is same..MOU has had serious
violations...killings, arms smuggling, abductions...height
of terrorism"

"RA is quite right...Do tiger leaders ever want a change?
However, US is still quite cool about LTTE
leader...Although Bush sees Saddam Hussein as a terrorist,
he does not regard Prabhakaran as one...It's Prabha's luck
and our bad luck."

"It is important that the US attitude about tigers should
be similar to our leaders view on tigers...Does LTTE want
to be changed? What is AB's or VP's reply to that? It
should be by word and deed"

Wills

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