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Cablegate: Media Play: (June 12) Tokyo 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 05 COLOMBO 001028

SIPDIS

Department for D (Gastright), INR/MR, I/RW, I/REC,
SA (CAMP, WALLER), SA/PD (BRENNIG, IRWIN, SCENSNY),
SSA/PAS; SSO (PASS TO D); TOKYO (HARA, BRYAN)

E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR OIIP CE LTTE
SUBJECT: MEDIA PLAY: (JUNE 12) TOKYO CONFERENCE

1. Summary. Sri Lankan media coverage of the Tokyo Donor
Conference and its implications lessened somewhat, but was
still energetic. Tamil newspapers' lead headlines
concentrated on the LTTE rejection of Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe's suggested interim administration for the
north and east. Tamil editorial commentary was robust.
While pro-LTTE SUDAR OLI's editorial quoted an LTTE Eastern
politico's comments about the need to "regroup" Tamil
forces, other editorials focused on government cooperation
with the Tigers. Guarded optimism was the order of the day
for government-owned media. The Tigers' rejection of an
interim administration was the big story in opposition and
independent media. End summary.

-----
2. LTTE statements and other Tamil reaction.
-----
Tamil newspapers' lead headlines concentrated on the LTTE
rejection of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's
suggested interim administration for the north and east.
Pro-LTTE daily, SUDAR OLI reported, "`Tigers reject the
provisional administrative structure proposed by Prime
Minister at the Tokyo Conference - Need the interim
administrative structure to resume talks' - Official
statement by LTTE issued from Kilinochchi HQ." This
headline was closely echoed by independent dailies
VIRAKESARI and THINAKKURAL. State-owned THINAKARAN
downplayed its story, "Tigers demand submission of the
draft framework of the interim administrative structure,"
by placing it low on its front page.

The primary source for these stories was likely Pro-LTTE
TamilNet's web headline, "LTTE insists on draft framework
for interim administration to resume talks."

Block quote.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in an official
statement issued from its headquarters in Kilinochchi,
northern Sri Lanka Wednesday reiterated its position that
it would participate in the negotiating process only when
the Sri Lankan government puts forward a clearly defined
draft framework for an interim administrative structure for
the Northeast.

End block quote.

Tamil newspapers also reported on Deputy Minister of
Finance Bandula Gunawardena's remarks. Independent daily
THINAKURAL quoted him, "There won't be an immediate effect
on the economy by the assistance assured in Tokyo," and,
"Separate administrative structure for proper utilization
of the assistance received at the Tokyo Conference,' in
state-owned THINAKARAN.

Tamil editorial commentary was robust. While pro-LTTE
SUDAR OLI's editorial quoted an LTTE Eastern politico
comments about the need to "regroup" Tamil forces, other
editorials focused on government cooperation with the
Tigers.

--- Pro-LTTE SUDAR OLI's editorial headline, "Can we reach
the target under present circumstances?" referred to a
peaceful Sri Lanka, but its core message was about the
threat presidential control of the armed forces poses to
the peace process, "Without a structure to control the
[armed] forces, the Prime Minister will not be able to
reach his target, however much he may be committed to
peace."

Block quotes.

Commitment of the international community for peace and its
assistance has allowed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
to continue the peace process with new energy.
His United National Party has not got an absolute majority
in the parliament.

President Chandrika Kumaratunge, the leader of the
opposition party, knows the weakness of the government,
which she uses to her benefit. She is taming the
government and showing her executive powers as the
president with threat of dissolution of parliament. The JVP
and other racist groups are rousing her.

There's wide accusation that the President manipulates a
section of the [armed] forces, as the head of the [armed]
forces, to discredit the government and to disrupt the
peace efforts.

E. Kausalyan, LTTE political leader in Batticaloa/Ampara
Districts condemned the actions of the [armed] forces in a
meeting that took place at the Divisional Secretariat in
Aalaiyady Vembu in the East on June 10. There he said:

`We are taking steps to rebuild good relations between
Tamils and Muslims, forgetting the sour experiences of the
war situation, which created division in the longstanding
relationship we have been enjoying for a very long time.

`Certain actions of the government forces are disturbing.
On June 4, One of our fighters was arrested in the
Batticaloa District in connection with a murder for which
he was innocent and had no connection whatsoever. This
happened because of the mistake of the police.

`The forces are trying to drag us into the war when we are
committed to peace. When considering all these, it is
evident that we need to regroup our Tamil forces. The
atrocities of the [armed] forces are growing day after day.
They seem to be working against peace.

`We are ones to stop the war. We are aware of the effects
of the war. We are not for war again,' he said.

Without a structure to control the forces, the Prime
Minister will not be able to reach his target, however much
he may be committed to peace.

End block quotes.

--- Under the headline, "Tokyo declaration," independent
daily, VIRAKESARI commented, "What Sri Lanka has is an
ethnic problem and the international community has accepted
that in finding solution to the problem, Tiger involvement
is very essential."


Block quotes.

Many participating countries expressed their concern over
LTTE boycott. Those countries pointed out that the LTTE
should not be betrayed, but this opportunity has been
afforded to resume talks with them and continue with the
peace efforts.

The request of the donor countries and the declaration on
the final day of the conference clearly show that the
country's ethnic problem should be solved through a
suitable political solution to attain lasting peace.

From time to time, the Opposition parties and the racists
try to argue that the problem in Sri Lanka is not ethnic
but terrorist. What Sri Lanka has is an ethnic problem and
the international community has accepted that in finding
solution to the problem, Tiger involvement is very
essential.

President's party has repeatedly stated that the assistance
was not aid but loan. She has appointed a 7 member
committee to study the speeches delivered by the Prime
Minister at the Tokyo Conference. PA has accused that 90%
of the assistance comes as loans and every citizen of this
country would become a debtor by a further sum of Rs 22,000
each.

From the day of Independence country has been depending on
foreign loans. Today the country has almost lost its
independence through dependence. When we fail to solve our
problems amicably, they turn out to be international
problems, and their assistance becomes necessary.

End block quotes.

--- Under the headline, "Hereafter, we should straighten up
peaceful politics," independent daily, THINAKKURAL
observed, "Resumption of talks and leading the country to a
lasting peace lie in the firmness of the Prime Minister in
carrying out his promises and the support of the LTTE."

Block quotes.

Likewise, Japanese Special Envoy Yasusi Akashi will travel
to London to meet LTTE Theoretician Anton Balasingham. In
brief, the international community is not just interested,
but has taken a stern stand that the peace efforts should
continue on the correct path.

The assistance provided by the International Community
should hasten the resumption of talks. The PA is in their
original stand opposing the efforts of the Prime Minister.
They accuse that this assistance has driven the country
further into debt.

When the country is to be regained and efforts are being
taken to solve the basic problems of this country through
the assistance of the international community, what the
opposition is trying is not acceptable.

Resumption of talks and leading the country to lasting a
peace lie in the firmness of the Prime Minister in carrying
out his promises and the support of the LTTE.

End block quotes.

--- Under the headline, "Great victory for Sri Lanka in
Japan," state-owned daily THINAKARAN commented, "The
racists should know their efforts to disrupt the peace
process initiated by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
and LTTE leader Velupillai Prabakaran will not succeed
because the majority of the people are for peace."

Block quotes.

The Prime Minister in his address clearly stated the
necessity of a provisional administrative structure,
something very similar to the interim administrative
structure demanded by the LTTE. It is very clear that no
development could be done in the NE without the
participation of the Tigers. There's no argument regarding
Tigers handling the assistance provided by the
international community as the administration in the NE is
under the LTTE.

The political parties that boast of representing the people
of the South and the Sinhalese people were dumb founded
about the flood victims until the Tigers came from the
north with flood relief. Such racist parties should learn
from the Liberation Tigers regarding humanitarian services.
The racists should know their efforts to disrupt the peace
process initiated by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
and LTTE leader Velupillai Prabakaran will not succeed
because the majority of the people are for peace.

The aid received in the Tokyo Conference would be spent in
war-affected areas in NE. As there's peoples' support to
these leaders, there's no doubt that their efforts would
succeed.

End block quotes.

-----
3. GSL statements and pro-government reaction.
-----
Guarded optimism was the order of the day for government-
owned media. Although state-owned television and radio
stations carried stories about the LTTE's rejection of the
Prime Minister's interim authority for the north and east,
newspapers downplayed it. State-owned English DAILY NEWS'
lead headline trumpeted, "Foreign funds will accelerate
socio-economic recovery - PM, and relegated "LTTE insists
on draft framework for interim administration to resume
talks," to the bottom of its front page. State-owned
Sinhala sister DINAMINA reported, "`When GSL officially
announces decisions on the Tokyo conference, [LTTE] shall
respond'-says LTTE," and favorably covered the investor's
conference immediately following Tokyo, "Japan bank
coordinated conference gets overwhelming attendance of
investors - result of the success of the confab."
--- Under the editorial headline, "Defining the looming
challenges," state-owned English DAILY NEWS acknowledged,
"The LTTE. has been fighting for power. A challenge for the
future for the Lankan polity is to balance these
conflicting demands in. an innovative administrative
structure for the North-East."
Block quotes.
With the landmark Tokyo aid donors' conference ending on a
clear note of triumph for Sri Lanka, the subsequent and
more arduous phases of "Regaining Sri Lanka" have now
begun.
That is, to make concrete, verifiable and substantial
progress in resolving our conflict by political means. That
is, the peace process must be resumed with the
participation of the LTTE and taken to its logical
conclusion.
However, before further efforts are made to re-involve the
LTTE in the peace process, some stark facts need to be
recognized. Prime among these is the need to ensure a
substantial role for the LTTE in the refashioned
administrative structure for the development of the North-
East. The LTTE, it needs to be realised, has been fighting
for power.
A challenge for the future for the Lankan polity is to
balance these conflicting demands in, indeed, an innovative
administrative structure for the North-East.
Some of the standards, which the parties to the peace
process would need to conform to in the socio-economic
sphere have been outlined by US Deputy Secretary of State
Richard Armitage. These are fairness, transparency and
accountability.
Accordingly, the creative potential of the people needs to
be tapped in the development exercise. They need to be
encouraged to play an active and creative role in their
deliverance from poverty. They need to be conscientized
into believing that they are dynamic agents in their
struggle against poverty, rather than being mere, passive,
recipients of aid. The latter leads to self-destructive
dependence.
End block quotes.
----
4. Opposition statements and pro-opposition reaction.
-----
The Tigers' rejection of the Prime Minister's interim
administration was the big story in opposition newspaper
headlines. Independent, but nationalist-leaning, English
daily ISLAND blared, "Tigers reject Ranil's latest offer
made in Tokyo," on its front page. Stirring the
sensibilities of its southern base, the ISLAND added,
"Tokyo Declaration ignores those disabled outside N-E," and
"Transparency, accountability a must in proposed
development mechanism of NE." Sister paper Sinhala daily
DIVAINA was calmer, and reported, "`LTTE officially
announces- if a clear draft of the interim administration
is done, they will return to peace talks."

--- Under the headline, "After the Tokyo Conference,"
independent, but nationalist-leaning, English daily ISLAND
commented, ".it appears that the moment of truth arrived
for the LTTE when they realised that at Tokyo they would
have to commit themselves to democracy and human rights -
all of which are extremely destructive to an organisation
that is bound together and driven forward by sheer forces
of terror."
Block quotes.
It was only on Tuesday night when two LTTE cadres were
stopped by the police on Galle Road Wellawattte that one of
them swallowed a cyanide capsule. Do organisations
committed to peace and human rights get their cadres to
take cyanide capsules?
It does appear that the moment of truth arrived for the
LTTE when they realised that at Tokyo they would have to
commit themselves to democracy and human rights - all of
which are extremely destructive to an organisation that is
bound together and driven forward by sheer forces of
terror.
While the Conference is supposed to have been on
`regaining' entire Sri Lanka, it does appear that in
certain aspects, the South and the people of the South,
appear to be forgotten.
With the LTTE boycott and the successful Tokyo Conference,
an entirely new game has commenced. The government, if it
caves into LTTE demands as before, will be kicking into its
own goal,once again.
End block quotes.

-----
5. Independent media reaction
-----
Independent television and radio carried the LTTE rejection
of an interim administration in English and vernacular
broadcasts. Independent English DAILY MIRROR reserved
their lead story for, "New economic tie-up with Japan - PM
thrilled by Tokyo vote of confidence in Sri Lanka's
potential," and also reported, "Tokyo Declaration in no way
is binding on us -Tigers." Independent Sinhala daily
LANKADEEPA headlined, "No interim administration draft, no
talks; LTTE rejects GSL's latest proposal," and quoted
leader of the LTTE's political wing, Tamilchelvan, "GSL
commitment on an interim admin is adequate to initiate
talks."

English and Sinhala independent editorialists were silent.

Wills

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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