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Cablegate: Media Play: Kadirgamar Coverage: Long On

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 000797

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR INR/MR, I/RW, I/REC; PA
SA/INS (CAMP, DEAN, WALLER) SA/PD (SCENSNY, ROGERS,
STRYKER); SSA/PAS

E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: KPAO PHUM OPRC KMDR OIIP PREL CE
SUBJECT: MEDIA PLAY: KADIRGAMAR COVERAGE: LONG ON
HEADLINES, SHORT ON EDITORIAL COMMENT


1. Summary. When Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Lakshman
Kadirgamar visited Washington in mid-May, press coverage in
Sri Lanka was long on headlines, short on editorial
comment. Newspapers and broadcasters, both English and
vernacular, gave extensive coverage to the visit, starting
on 5/13 and moving through the weekend. Most headlines
were anodyne, although Kadirgamar was occasionally caught
making misstatements regarding the Millennium Challenge
Account or commenting on the LTTE in ways that appeared to
deviate from GOSL policy. Curiously, only three newspapers
commented editorially on the FM's visit. A government-
owned English daily said that the FM had received a
"Morale-booster from US." Under "Chaos in a country" an
independent Sinhala weekender praised Kadirgamar for
criticizing other Sri Lankan politicians. And under "Hard
talk alone won't do" an independent English daily praised
Deputy Secretary Armitage's "strong criticisms of LTTE
terrorism." End summary.

-----
Headlines
-----

2. Most headlines emphasized the USG's continuing
commitment to the peace process. For instance, the
independent English daily, ISLAND, reported on the FM's
meeting with Armitage under the headline, "Kadir-Armitage
pow-wow: U.S. asks LTTE to give up arms," and the
government-owned Sinhala daily, DINAMINA, quoted Armitage:
"no connections with Tigers until they renounce terrorism."
Said the government-owned English DAILY NEWS: "Powell
reiterates U.S. support in Govt's quest for peace."

3. Other headlines, however, seemed to have Kadirgamar
charting his own course. Items:

- Although Sri Lanka has been designated as "eligible" for
the Millennium Challenge Account, headlines in the DAILY
NEWS had the FM erroneously talking of a "U.S. 100 M dollar
outright grant for development": "nearly U.S. $100 million
will be immediately available to Sri Lanka as a U.S.
Millennium Challenge Account, Foreign Minister Lakshman
Kadirgamar disclosed yesterday."

- Although his government has said the LTTE's ISGA
proposals will be a basis for future peace negotiations,
Kadirgamar offered his own views in Washington, however.
"Kadir sees dangers in ISGA proposals" said the independent
English DAILY MIRROR. "ISGA is a blueprint for a separate
state, says Kadirgamar in Washington," reported the
independent Sinhala daily, LANKADEEPA. Even the
government-owned telecaster, RUPAVAHINI, noted: "Minister
Lakshman Kadirgamar says that no government could grant
everything demanded by the LTTE for an interim
administration."

- And in a statement likely to infuriate the LTTE,
Kadirgamar wondered aloud whether India would attempt to
extradite LTTE leader Prabhakaran. "It's up to the Indian
government to get down Prabhakaran," said headlines in the
independent Sinhala daily, DIVAINA, while its English
sister, ISLAND, said: "Congress may seek Prabhakaran's
extradition - Kadir." The independent Sinhala daily,
LANKADEEPA, made a similar declaration: "India may ask to
hand over Prabhakaran, says Minister Kadirgamar in
Washington."

-----
Editorial excerpts:
-----

4. Under the header "Morale-booster from US," the
government-owned English DAILY NEWS (5/18) said: "Going by
the pronouncements of strong support for Sri Lanka and its
peace process, by some top officials of the US Government,
it could be said that Foreign Minister Lakshman
Kadirgamar's visit to the US has been exceedingly
successful and productive. It has helped to further
bolster our ties with the US. Take for instance the
statements made by US Secretary of State Colin Powell and
his deputy Richard Armitage, when they met the Lankan
Foreign Minister. There was strong endorsement of the
Lankan peace process by these officials who pledged strong
support to the UPFA Government in our conflict resolution
effort."

5. Under the header "Chaos in a country," an Independent
Sinhala weekender, DIVAMINA (5/16): "In a speech made in
Washington, 'Democracy implemented in the third world: the
Sri Lankan experience,' Minister Kadirgamar said that the
two main parties in Sri Lanka are hefty, exhausted,
extremely corrupt, and inefficient. That is why so many
people voted for JVP this time. Although the masses
frequently say this, it's very rarely that a politician
makes such a straightforward statement.. Hats off to
Minister Kadirgamar for proclaiming this fact in public."

6. Under the header "Hard talk alone won't do," the
independent English daily, ISLAND (5/15) said: "...
Armitage has been characteristically very strong in his
criticisms of LTTE terrorism on Thursday. Speaking to
reporters in Washington following his meeting with Foreign
Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, he had reiterated that the
U.S. will not remove the LTTE from the list of Foreign
Terrorist Organisations until the LTTE gives up arms
forever. The U.S. had not supported the LTTE in any way
nor given any aid to the LTTE, he had said and referred to
the tragedy of children being used as child soldiers. He
had once again repeated that the LTTE had to give up
terrorism by word and deed. Sri Lanka has to appreciate
the United States and highly placed American officials like
Mr. Armitage who have not minced words about LTTE terrorism
and thereby keeping to their commitments against
international terrorism. This attitude stands in contrast
to the wishy-washy attitudes of countries like Britain and
European powers expressing interest in the Sri Lankan
issue. Though Britain has banned the LTTE as a terrorist
organisation, its spokesman 'Baron Munchausen' Anton
Balasingham operates freely from London meeting foreign
representatives, making the British capital the operational
headquarters of the LTTE. However, despite the harsh anti-
terrorist rhetoric of the Superpower, most Sri Lankans are
wondering whether such condemnation has had any effect on
the terrorists.. There is strong suspicion . that the
western powers had drawn up their strategy for the creation
of a federal or confederal state which Prabakaran has
consented to but that he, in reality, has no other
objective than a separate state.. Apparently hard rhetoric
has not and will not, deter this fanatical terrorist from
deviating from his objective. Something much more
effective has to be done to make him see reason and
reality.

Lunstead

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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