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Cablegate: Media Play: Coverage of Pdas Camp's Roundtable Discussion

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 001278

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: KPAO PHUM PTER EAID OIIP PREL CE LTTE
SUBJECT: MEDIA PLAY: Coverage of PDAS Camp's roundtable discussion
Peace Process with senior editors


1. (U) SUMMARY. Following a roundtable discussion with PDAS Don Camp
on July 30 with senior newspaper editors, press coverage in Sri Lanka
was largely positive and upbeat. Newspapers, both English and
vernacular, covered the event factually and placed their coverage of
the event very prominently. Key topics of the coverage included the
peace process, the need to move forward with peace negotiations and t
message sent by the June Co-chairs conference. Editorial comment,
while limited, reinforced the message of urgency iterated by the Co-
chairs. END SUMMARY.

---------
Headlines
---------

2. (U) Focusing on the call to resume peace negotiations, the
independent English DAILY MIRROR made coverage of the event its lead,
reporting (07/31): "Get back to peace talks now - U.S. makes urgent
appeal to Govt. and LTTE."

3. (U) The government-owned English Daily News reported (07/31):
"U.S. reiterates support for peace efforts." Echoing that sentiment,
independent Tamil daily VIRAKESARI reported ((07/31): "America wishe
that the peace process be successful - U.S. deputy assistant
secretary."

SIPDIS

4. (U) The independent English SUNDAY LEADER reported (08/01): "U.S
joins chorus to start talks.", and, in the same issue, "Peace process
Talks or bust." Following in that vein, independent Sinhala daily
LANKADEEPA reported (07/31): "Confirmed security necessary for quick
foreign assistance; peace process has slowed down, says U.S. Deputy
Assistant Secretary."

5. (U) The independent daily ISLAND reported (08/02): "Free,
democratic, and peaceful Sri Lanka: In U.S. national interest, says
Camp." (Note: The ISLAND devoted three-quarters of their 08/02
editorial page to coverage of the roundtable, reprinting a transcript
of the discussion prepared by PD Colombo.)


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

6. (U) Under the header "Stranded position of the international
community," independent Tamil weekender THINAKKURAL commented (08/01)
"Those in power, though the international community had issued many
warnings that the funds pledged at Tokyo would be diverted to elsewhe
unless there is progress in the peace talks, have not shown any
interest in diverting their course of action towards the peace proces
Last week, Norwegian deputy foreign minister Vidar Helgesen who visit
Sri Lanka, said that the patience of the international community is
being tested by the Sri Lankans, as there's no progress at sight....
U.S. principal deputy assistant secretary of state Donald Camp who
visited Sri Lanka two days after the departure of Helgesen requested
the LTTE and the government to return to the negotiation table as soo
as possible or else the funds may go somewhere else.... the presen
ceasefire agreement had survived many obstacles and problems and is i
effect for the last two and half years because of the involvement of
the international community.... If the international community fails
to somehow convince the two parties to resume peace talks early, we
will not be able to safeguard the ceasefire agreement any longer....
The disinterest shown by the international community today will only
bring disaster to the country."

7. (U) Under the op-ed header "Peace process: Talks or bust" The
independent English SUNDAY LEADER (08/01) quoted PDAS Camp: "Similar
sentiments were echoed by U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary f
South Asian Affairs, Donald A. Camp who was on a two-day visit to Sri
Lanka last week. 'The international community will flag in some of it
efforts,' he said referring to international interest on Sri Lanka an
the continuing lack of progress. Camp added that development would
depend on security. 'I think the important thing is for both sides t
get back to the table,' he observed. Camp said that Sri Lanka has bee
kept alive within the U.S. administration due to the personal interes
on the country paid by Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy
Richard Armitage. He echoed Helgesen when he said that dozens of
international crises appear on the agenda of the State Department on
daily basis. He also did not rule out the fact that interest in Sri
Lanka might diminish within the State Department if a change of guard
does take place at the November 2, US presidential election. 'That
(interest) presumably would change,' he said."
8. (U) PDAS Camp was not able to clear on this message before
departing Post.

Lunstead

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