Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Search

 

Cablegate: Government Blames Ltte for Jaffna Humanitarian

VZCZCXRO7323
PP RUEHBI
DE RUEHLM #1819/01 3061105
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021105Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4603
INFO RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 6452
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 4506
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 3283
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0130
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 3372
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0944
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 0280
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2453
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 7006
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 4838
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO 0075
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1460
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0476
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 001819

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/INS, USPACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PTER PGOV CE
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT BLAMES LTTE FOR JAFFNA HUMANITARIAN
CRISIS; ANNOUNCES PLAN FOR PRIVATE SECTOR TO HELP

REF: COLOMBO 1812

1. (SBU) Minister of Healthcare and Nutrition and lead
peace negotiator DeSilva briefed the Sri Lankan Diplomatic
Corps on November 2 on the outcome of the peace talks and
government plans to mobilize the private sector to help meet
humanitarian needs in Jaffna. DeSilva disagreed with press
characterizations that the talks had been a failure noting
that it would be unrealistic to expect quick solutions to a
problem that had lasted more than 30 years. He said the
talks in Geneva had been cordial, which augured well for
future talks, and had focused on a political settlement and
humanitarian issues.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

2. (SBU) With respect to a political settlement DeSilva
expressed satisfaction with the interaction that had taken
place. He said the LTTE had welcomed the southern consensus
produced by the SLFP-UNP agreement. He also said talks
marked the first serious discussion between the two sides on
a political settlement. He provided no further details on
the content of the political settlement discussions.
(Ambassador will attend a briefing for Co-Chair Ambassadors
by Norwegian Ambassador Brattskar on Friday November 3 where
we expect to get more details.)

3. (SBU) DeSilva blamed the LTTE for humanitarian
difficulties in Jaffna. He disputed LTTE claims that the A-9
road to Jaffna was closed. He said the road was not closed;
only the northern Omantai checkpoint is closed. He pointed
out that if the government truly intended to starve the LTTE
it would have closed the road at a checkpoint further south.
DeSilva further contended that the only reason for the
closure of the Omantai checkpoint was that the LTTE had begun
mortar shelling of the area on August 11. Before then, the
checkpoint had been open. DeSilva also echoed long-standing
GSL complaints that every truck proceeding through LTTE
territory had to pay a 500,000 rp. (USD 5,000) tax. DeSilva
told the gathering that the GSL wants to ship food to Jaffna,
but requires security guarantees. He pointed out that UN
Under Secretary General Egeland likewise had stated the UN's
readiness to provide relief by sea, but also needs LTTE
security assurances before doing so. DeSilva concluded that
these points demonstrate that the LTTE is intentionally
preventing food from reaching Jaffna to try to score points
against the government. He nonetheless stated that the
government is determined to deliver food and other supplies
to Jaffna as soon as modalities can be worked out.

4. (U) DeSilva concluded by stating the GSL's readiness to
return to negotiations even if there is not a full cease fire
in place. He complained that the LTTE had already broken the
cease fire and reiterated that the GSL has no plans to
initiate offensive actions, but will continue to defend
itself if fired on.

5. (SBU) Minister of Enterprise Development and Investment
Promotion Bogollagama then announced plans by the government
to mobilize the Sri Lankan private sector to help relieve
humanitarian conditions in Jaffna. He said the government
had asked the private sector to provide ships that can carry
humanitarian cargoes from the ports of Colombo and
Trincomalee to three ports in northern Sri Lanka. He said
the government aims to send 20,000 metric tons of food per
month to Jaffna starting in November. He noted
parenthetically that the government also was planning to
bring 3,000 metric tons from Chennai. Ambassador Blake asked
Bogolllagama why the government thought the private sector
would be willing to ship supplies to the north when the ICRC
and UN refused to do so in the absence of security guarantees
from the LTTE. Bogollagama responded that the Navy would
provide security and that insurance arrangements would also
need to be worked out.

COLOMBO 00001819 002 OF 002

6. (SBU) Comment: While the government clearly is looking
for ways to help relieve the situation in Jaffna, it does not
appear that they have fully thought through how such a
private sector mechanism could work in practice. If ships
flagged by the ICRC and the UN are reluctant to brave the
passage to Jaffna, it is unlikely that private ships will do
so even with the protection of the Navy. Ambassador will
host a co-chair meeting on November 7 to prepare for the
November 20th co-chairs meeting in Washington. We will use
that occasion to seek co-chair Ambassador consensus on a way
forward to resolve the Jaffna humanitarian impasse.
BLAKE

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
World Headlines

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.