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Cablegate: Media Play: (June 13) 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 04 COLOMBO 001048

SIPDIS

Department for D (Gastright), INR/MR, I/RW, I/REC,
SA (CAPM, 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 13) TOKYO CONFERENCE

Summary. News coverage of the Tokyo Donor Conference
faded somewhat, but editorial comment from a variety of
perspectives reamined robust. Tamil newspapers continued
to cover the Tokyo Conference and its aftermath, while
Tamil editorial comment urged the government to give an
interim administration with authority to the LTTE. State-
owned media coverage of Tokyo was light and focused on the
potential impact of donor money. Opposition media ran a
few sour news headlines about Tokyo, but reserved most of
its energy for editorial comment, in which editorialists
questioned the motives of the Tigers and urged the
Government to prepare militarily. Independent media
outlets concentrated on the business community's positive
reaction to the Tokyo Conference and commented on
cohabitation issues. End summary.

-----
2. LTTE statements and other Tamil reaction.
-----
Independent daily VIRAKESARI reported, "`Both parties
should resume talks - ball in government's court' - Tamil
National Alliance," while independent daily THINAKKURAL's
headline quoted Deputy Secretary Armitage's CNN interview,
"Tokyo assurances based on progress of peace efforts."

Tamil newspapers were also concerned with opposition
statements. Independent daily VIRAKESARI reported,
"There's no truth in what the opposition party says about
[donor] aid," and quoted Lakshman Kadirgamar, Presidential
Advisor on International Affairs and Former Minister of
Foreign Affairs, "PA is ready for devolution of power after
amending the constitution."

Tamil editorial comment urged the government to give an
interim administration with authority to the LTTE.

--- Under the editorial headline, "Resumption of talks in
government hands," pro-LTTE daily, SUDAR OLI cautioned,
"The LTTE is adamant that talks would be futile. until. a
powerful administrative body with authority is
established."

Block quotes.

Six rounds of talks between government and LTTE have been
completed. Talks were halted when almost all the plans
were ready for the seventh round of talks. The question
now is whether the talks would continue. A political
solution acceptable to everyone should be achieved for the
ethnic problem in Sri Lanka. Lasting peace is the
requirement of everyone without exception.

The LTTE stressed the need for an interim administrative
structure in the early stages of the talks. Many
committees were established in lieu of the interim
administrative structure, as the provisions in the
constitution may have blocked the formation of such a
council.

It is not possible to carry out the development and
reconstruction work of the north and east with councils
with less or limited authority. That is the reason the
LTTE is demanding an interim administrative structure until
a final settlement is reached for the ethnic problem in Sri
Lanka.

The LTTE is adamant that talks would be futile without an
interim administrative structure and that they will not
take part in talks until such a powerful administrative
body with authority is established.

What is the reply of the government? What is the government
going to do? The future of peace talks is in the hands of
the government.

End block quotes.

--- Under the headline, "Must not allow room for serious
division," independent daily THINAKKURAL warned that if
serious consideration is not given to the Tigers' request
for an interim administration, ".it may not be possible to
prevent a situation leading to a serious division in
national politics.

Block quotes.

There was a time when the international community and
investors were afraid to assist or invest [in Sri Lanka]
because of the prevailing war situation. Now the situation
has changed. The pressure applied by the international
community that peace is the priority, has opened avenues
for assistance and investment, which was evident from the
investors that participated at the investors' forum held
soon after the Tokyo Donor Conference.

The government sources should realize that all these steps
were possible because of the peaceful situation created by
the government and the LTTE, and the hope that these two
parties move forward for a lasting solution.

More funds were received and more pressure has been applied
at the Conference than expected. Now it is time for Prime
Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and his government to bring
in cohabitation in local politics and make way for the
Tiger demand of the interim administrative structure.
Steps should be taken for drastic changes in the political
environment and work for an interim administrative
structure to undertake the development, rehabilitation and
reconstruction activities in the north and east, even above
the constitution.

If it is not meticulously handled it may not be possible to
prevent a situation leading to a serious division in
national politics.

End block quotes.

-----
3. GSL statements and pro-government reaction.
-----
State-owned media coverage of Tokyo was light and focused
on the fate of donor money. State-owned television and
radio stations carried several optimistic news items about
Tokyo's remit in English and vernacular news programs,
including positive reaction from the business community and
an interview with a former Finance Minister Ronie de Mel.
On a less up-beat note, they also carried Sinhalese
chauvinist group Sihala Urumaya's statement that Tokyo aid
is misleading the people of Sri Lanka.
State-owned English DAILY NEWS' business page reported,
"Monitoring foreign aid utilization, project implementation
should get priority - Industry leaders."
--- Under the editorial headline, "The economic dimension
in peace," state-owned English DAILY NEWS observed, "One
effective way of building on this peace foundation is to
enhance the economic prospects of the country."
Block quotes.
Although a stable peace could be considered a long distance
away at this point in time, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe's
bold initiative to find peace by peaceful means and his
heady attempt to swim against the tide of political
opportunism, have enabled many a Lankan to entertain in her
or his heart, the hope of one day drinking deep at the
springs of peace.
One effective way of building on this peace foundation is
to enhance the economic prospects of the country. This is
the reason why the possible positive fallout from the Tokyo
donor conference could prove vital. The development funds
which have been pledged to Sri Lanka by the world community
should be obtained as quickly as possible and ploughed into
the development process to enable the wide masses of the
country to better their economic condition and to thereby
convince themselves that their peace hopes have not been in
vain.
However, it is also important to realise that poverty has
to be dealt with on a multi-pronged basis. What needs to be
aimed at is not mere economic growth but equitable growth.
End block quotes.
----
4. Opposition statements and pro-opposition reaction.
-----
Opposition media ran a few sour news headlines about Tokyo,
but reserved most of its energy for editorial comment.
Independent, but nationalist-leaning, English daily, ISLAND
reported, "`If IA is outside constitution so is MoU' - Most
Tamil parties justify LTTE demand," and "Tokyo donor
conference: Govt. misleading people - Sihala Urumaya."

Opposition editorialists questioned the motives of the
Tigers and urged the Government to prepare militarily.
--- Under the editorial headline, "Warlord preparing for
war again?" independent, but nationalist-leaning, English
daily ISLAND advised, "The armed forces must be put on full
alert. Prabakaran has a tendency to repeat history."
Block quotes.
Velupillai Prabhakaran, like most terrorist leaders, is
attributed with `lateral thinking'- thinking diametrically
opposite to conventional ways.
He appeared to be recovering after the 18-month bout of
sanity and courtship by a misguided `international
community', but now has once again rebuffed the world's
most powerful nations. He has rejected the proposal for an
Interim Administration made by Prime Minister
Wickremasinghe at Tokyo. He now refuses to negotiate and
demands an Interim Administration on his terms that would
go against the provisions of the Constitution.
Some military analysts now predict that the warlord is
heading for war.

However much we may yearn for peace, this militarisation of
the LTTE cannot be ignored and the government forces must
be prepared for a lightning blitzkrieg by the terrorists.
Government forces in the Jaffna peninsula are by no means
well placed and the LTTE may be tempted to stage a
lightning strike, wipe out the vital Palaly camp and then
declare peace once again!
The armed forces must be put on full alert. Prabakaran has
a tendency to repeat history.
End block quotes.

--- The ISLAND's Sinhala sister daily DIVAINA, headlined,
"Seeing the brighter side of Tiger reaction," on its
editorial page, and commented, "The Tigers were waiting to
snatch the whole aid package. In a way it is good that
they did not turn up in Tokyo, as this shows that we can
take care of ourselves."

Block quotes.

As we see it, the Tokyo aid is the Government's great
achievement. The Tigers did not contribute to it, they
only fretted about it.

Their comments on the Prime Minister's statement
[suggesting an interim authority] is baseless, his Tokyo
objective was to search for financial support to rebuild a
country ruined by war and politicians. He was not expected
to relate a never-heard-before fairy tale, the Tigers have
the Norwegians for story telling."

The Tigers were waiting to snatch the whole aid package.
In a way it is good that they did not turn up in Tokyo, as
this shows that we can take care of ourselves.

The LTTE will say that the Tokyo declaration does not apply
to them. That has been the case always. Morals and virtue
were always taboo for the Tigers. We are aware of it.

End block quotes.

-----
5. Independent media reaction.
-----
Independent media outlets concentrated on the business
community's positive reaction to the Tokyo Conference, but
commented on cohabitation issues editorially. Echoing
television and radio news reports, independent English
DAILY MIRROR reported, "Foreign cash fails to lift Sri
Lanka peace prospects."
--- Under the editorial headline, "Sri Lanka's plight,"
independent English DAILY MIRROR commented, "It is not
negative criticism, therefore that is needed from the
opposition, but effective cooperation to clear the hurdles
the country is confronted with today."
Block quotes.
There is nothing unusual or surprising about what the PA
spokesman Sarath Amunugama said the other day trivialising
the record quantum of aid promised to this country at the
Tokyo meeting.
It is this plight the country is placed in today that
compels it to seek outside assistance to solve its internal
problems, and foreign donations to resuscitate the economy.
Even these lavish foreign donations will not improve our
situation unless these funds are prudently utilized. The
statement made by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who
steered the country to the Tokyo Conference delineates the
constraints that militate against the proper utilisation of
these donations. He said, "Sri Lanka has to overcome the
delays, the blockages and the inertia of its bureaucratized
apparatus and transform it into one capable of speedy
implementation, where work is done efficiently and
effectively."
It is not negative criticism, therefore that is needed from
the opposition, but effective cooperation to clear the
hurdles the country is confronted with today.
End block quotes.

Wills

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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