Cablegate: Usaid Working-Level Meeting with Ltte in Ampara
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
240720Z Nov 03
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 002025
DEPT FOR SA, SA/INS
DEPT ALSO PLEASE PASS TO USAID/ANE/AA, GORDON WEST;
ANE/ESA BERNADETTE BUNDY, ANE/SA CHARLES UPHAUS, AND
DCHA/OTI RACHEL WAX
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PTER CE LTTE
SUBJECT: USAID WORKING-LEVEL MEETING WITH LTTE IN AMPARA
REF: (A) COLOMBO 01724 (B) STATE 256563
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.
1. (SBU) Based on recent State Department guidance
approving operational/working-level discussions with
counterpart LTTE representatives (reftel) and a subsequent
meeting between the Embassy's front office and USAID/Sri
Lanka staff, USAID staff met on November 14 with LTTE
representatives at their office in Akkaraipattu, Ampara
District, to introduce the USAID Office of Transition
Initiatives (OTI) Regional Program Manager in Ampara and
give an overview of USAID/OTI activities in the region.
The previous day, in Kilinochchi, an USAID/OTI local staff
member met with the head of the LTTE's Public
Administration Office to streamline details governing the
transport of USAID/OTI project supplies through the LTTE-
controlled Vanni region to USAID/OTI grantees in
government-controlled Jaffna. Both meetings were cordial
2. (SBU) The Ampara meeting was the fifth between USAID
and the LTTE in six weeks. USAID staff met with the LTTE
to introduce the OTI program and discuss working-level
issues on September 29 in Jaffna and Kilinochchi and on
October 7 in Trincomalee, and then again on November 13 in
3. (SBU) In Ampara, USAID was represented by the
USAID/OTI Regional Program Manager there and the Special
Projects Officer from USAID/Colombo, both expatriates.
Representing the LTTE were Mr. Kausileyan, Political
Leader for Batticaloa and Ampara, and Mr. Kuliyinpan,
Deputy Political Leader for Ampara. Although the LTTE had
an interpreter available throughout the meeting, most of
the conversation took place in Tamil with translation when
necessary, as the USAID Special Projects Officer is
conversant in Tamil.
4. (SBU) USAID explained that the main purpose of the
meeting was to give an overview of OTI's work in the
Ampara-Batticaloa districts as a basis for future
discussions as needed on operational issues. The USAID/OTI
Ampara Regional Program Manager described several of the
ongoing activities supported by OTI in the region and
handed out copies of a one-page OTI program overview, with
contact information, written in Tamil.
5. (SBU) Given a chance to ask questions, the LTTE
representatives asked how projects were identified and
through whom they were implemented. Of particular interest
was an activity involving YMCA Kallar in Batticaloa
district, one of the few civil society organizations that
has been willing to criticize the LTTE in recent years. No
attempt was made, however, to dissuade USAID/OTI from
working with this or any other grantee, or to suggest
USAID/OTI to support other partners.
6. (SBU) Mr. Kausileyan gave the phone number of the
LTTE's NGO Liaison Officer for Batticaloa and Ampara, one
Mr. Thurei, whose office is in the Chenkadi Division of
Batticaloa. He encouraged the USAID/OTI Ampara Regional
Program Manager to make contact with Mr. Thurei regarding
any future work-related issues or problems. The USAID
staff took the opportunity to reinforce the point that the
LTTE should route communication directly to the USAID/OTI
Ampara Regional Program Manager rather than approach local
USAID/OTI staff on work-related issues.
A KILINOCHCHI MEETING TO FINALIZE LOGISTICAL DETAILS
7. (SBU) Building on a late October introductory
meeting, an USAID/OTI local staff member arranged a second
meeting with the Head of the LTTE's Public Administration
Office in Kilinochchi to obtain a tax waiver for USAID/OTI
project supplies ready for transport from Colombo to
Jaffna through the LTTE-controlled Vanni region. As with a
smaller goods shipment that was sent through the Vanni in
October, USAID/OTI staff again were given preferential
treatment to expedite the transport process. The approvals
that might have taken another organization five days took
only forty eight hours, a processing that will allow for
project supplies to be sent expeditiously to grantees in
Jaffna during the week of November 24.
8. (SBU) In addition, the USAID/OTI staff member
requested and was given three "permanent access passes"
for local staff. These passes minimize time and effort
required for Sri Lankan nationals to travel through the
Vanni and have been granted to staff members of very few
international agencies or organizations - the United
Nations being one.
9. (SBU) The LTTE again suggested that opening an office
in Jaffna would minimize the logistical burden on USAID.
The USAID/OTI staff explained that the Agency's resources
were not sufficient to open a third field office beyond
the ones in Trincomalee and Ampara, and that given the
frequency of air transport to Jaffna the region could be
effectively covered by Colombo-based staff.
10. (SBU) The LTTE continued to encourage USAID to
support the activities of members of the Jaffna Consortium
of NGOs. The Consortium historically has been branded as
pro-LTTE and for a time during the late 1990s lost most of
its international funding. Since the ceasefire agreement
in early 2002, however, the Consortium - with limited
support from some international NGOs working in Jaffna -
has attempted to establish itself as an independent member
of civil society.
11. (SBU) USAID's working-level meetings with the LTTE
continue to be cordial, productive and low-key. The USG's
redesignation in October of the LTTE as a foreign
terrorist organization clearly has not dampened these
relations or caused the LTTE to renege on its initial
promise to facilitate USAID rehabilitation and development
activities in the North and the East.
12. (SBU) It is expected that the GSL and the LTTE will
begin discussions in the near future on an interim
administration for the North and East. These discussions
will formalize the LTTE's role with regard to development
assistance in these areas and will without doubt give the
LTTE a significantly more prominent role. For this
reason, maintenance of the working-level relationships
established with the LTTE in the North and East are
critical to the continued relevance of USG development
assistance in Sri Lanka.