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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Deputy Secretary Armitage's Conversation

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

UNCLAS COLOMBO 001891

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 LTTE
SUBJECT: Media Reaction: Deputy Secretary Armitage's conversation
with Sri Lankan leaders

1. (U) SUMMARY: Deputy Secretary Armitage's November 19 telephone
conversations with President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Opposition
Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, as well as the Department's subsequent
press statement, received broad, prominent coverage in the Sri Lankan
media and served to reinforce the message that the LTTE must renounce
terrorism in word and deed and return to the negotiating table. Loca
media have also speculated on whether Armitage's impending departure
will mean a decrease in high-level American attention to Sri Lanka.
END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Deputy Secretary Armitage's November 19 conversations with
President Kumaratunga and Opposition Leader Wickremesinghe received
widespread coverage in electronic media on November 20. Several radi
stations led with the story, as did the independent television statio
MTV on its evening news broadcasts in all three local languages.

3. (U) The Deputy Secretary's message was also featured prominently
in both English and vernacular print outlets. Independent English
Sunday Island bannered (11/21): "Armitage phones CBK, Ranil, condemn
LTTE." Government-owned English Sunday Observer carried news of the
statement in a front-page headline (11/21): "Return to peace table,
U.S. tells LTTE." Government-owned Sunday Times (11/21) carried news
of the telephone conversation with President Kumaratunga in an op-ed
titled "Doctoring constitution through doctrine of necessity."
Vernacular papers widely covered the statement, with three Tamil and
one Sinhala papers carrying factual, positive front-page articles
reporting the Deputy Secretary's message.

4. (U) COMMENT: Coming at a time of political instability and severa
killings by the LTTE, the Deputy Secretary's message served to
underscore U.S. commitment to the peace process in Sri Lanka, and to
send the oft-iterated message to the Tigers that the group must
renounce its violent ways and resume negotiations without further
delay. The message and ensuing coverage also served to remind the Sr
Lankan public that the U.S. stands firmly behind Norwegian
facilitation efforts. END COMMENT

Lunstead

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