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Cablegate: Special Media Reaction: Deputy Secretary

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS COLOMBO 001809

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR D, INR/MR, 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
SUBJECT: Special Media Reaction: Deputy Secretary
Armitage's videotaped comments to Sri Lankans on Election
Day

1. (U) SUMMARY: Deputy Secretary Armitage's taped message
to Sri Lankans on the occasion of the U.S. presidential
elections, transmitted as part of Embassy Colombo's
Election Day event, garnered positive coverage in both the
English and vernacular media. Reporting on the message and
the event underscored the U.S. interest in Sri Lanka and
the commitment to combating terrorism. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) As part of Embassy Colombo's Election Day
festivities, Deputy Secretary Armitage's taped message was
widely applauded by the 250 assembled VIP guests.
Moreover, it generated widespread, favorable media
coverage. The main English and vernacular television news
programs November 3 featured the statement. The
independent MTV's news, in English, Sinhala and Tamil,
reported that Deputy Secretary Armitage "assured that no
matter who wins the Presidential elections, Sri Lanka has a
friend in the US." Independent ARTV's news bulletin, which
generally focuses on business matters, said "Richard
Armitage's address to Sri Lanka offered the expected nudge
to get its peace process back on the track." State-owned
Rupavahini Television headlined: "U.S. reiterates that the
LTTE should shun violence and return to the negotiation
table."

3. (U) The Deputy Secretary's messages also resonated in
both English and vernacular print outlets. The independent
English Daily Mirror reported on its front page: "Armitage:
No matter who wins, US will back Lanka to fight terror".
Government-owned Sinhala daily Dinamina also gave the story
front-page coverage: "Richard Armitage repeats call for
Tigers to renounce terrorism and get back to peace talks".
The Tamil press took a slightly different tack, with the
independent Virakesari reporting: "Armitage is worried that
the chances of peace and a permanent solution may slip
away". Independent Thinakkural wrote: "America is worried
that the situation is such that peace efforts in Sri Lanka
may slip away." Independent website Lanka Academic
headlined an AP piece titled: "Chance for peace may be
slipping away, Armitage warns."

4. (U) COMMENT: The taped message resonated with the Sri
Lankan public and illustrated the United States' continued
interest in a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The
message also served to reinforce the oft-repeated position
that the Tigers must renounce terrorism in word and deed.
Post extends many thanks to Deputy Secretary Armitage for
his willingness to record the video, and to everyone else
who worked on the initiative. END COMMENT

Lunstead

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