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Cablegate: India to Continue Advocacy for Devolution of Power

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DE RUEHNE #2322/01 2420326
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 290326Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3172
INFO RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 5212
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 2772
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 0343
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 5753
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEIDN/DNI WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 6833
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 7860
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L NEW DELHI 002322

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/20/2026
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR PTER KTIA MOPS IN CE
SUBJECT: INDIA TO CONTINUE ADVOCACY FOR DEVOLUTION OF POWER
IN SRI LANKA

Classified By: Deputy Political Counselor Les Viguerie for Reasons 1.4 (B and D)
1.(C) SUMMARY: In an August 25 meeting with Ambassador Blake, Indian Joint Secretary (Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Myanmar) T.S. Tirumurti avowed the GOI,s continued advocacy for devolution of power in Sri Lanka and said India was preparing to share specific ideas with Sri Lanka. Ambassador Blake proposed that India and the U.S. encourage Sri Lanka to articulate its power-sharing vision now; engage in quiet talks with the LTTE; and allow a quiet dialog between the UN and the LTTE on the status of Internally Displaced Persons in the Vanni. Tirumurti commented that there is not significant LTTE support in Tamil Nadu now, but that could change if there was an influx of refugees. END SUMMARY.
2.(C) In an August 25th meeting with visiting Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Joint Secretary (Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Burma and Maldives) T.S. Tirumurti emphasized the GOI,s continued advocacy for devolution of power in Sri Lanka beyond the power sharing formula in the 1987 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution. Tirumurti cited National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan,s recent statements in the press in which he said that ""even if they (the GOSL) win the battle, I am not sure they will win the war... I think they haven,t got the Tamil population on their side"" as one public indicator of India,s ongoing commitment to a political solution. Tirumurti also confirmed press reports that India plans to provide ideas to Sri Lanka about ways it can better implement the 13th amendment to show it is sincere about power sharing.
3.(C) Tirumurti expressed optimism about Sri Lanka,s Eastern Province, saying Pillaiyan,s electoral victory there marked ""the first genuine, moderate, political group of Tamils"" in power in Sri Lanka. However, he conveyed that GOI dialog with President Rajapaksa indicates that the devolution of power was limited by the need for a viable Tamil police force and a way to absorb Pillaiyan,s paramilitary cadres into society. Ambassador Blake and Tirumurti agreed that it is vital to demobilize TMVP cadre now that Pillaiyan is Chief Minister. Ambassador Blake suggested that India could provide training to build administrative capacity in Sri Lanka. Tirumurti replied that India is engaging in such projects in Sri Lanka, but not in the Eastern Province, and added that vocational training centers will be needed to help the cadres demobilize.
4.(C) Ambassador Blake proposed that India and the U.S. encourage Sri Lanka to articulate its power-sharing vision now; engage in quiet talks with the LTTE; and encourage a quiet dialogue between the UN and the LTTE so Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Vanni are free to move south from LTTE-controlled areas to areas where they can receive better care and be out of harm,s way. Tirumurti stated that ""Rajapaksa wants Prabhakaran finished"" and further pointed out that the LTTE continues to receive funding from Europe. This is a source of concern for India and Sri Lanka and a credibility problem for the West, he said. He emphasized that cutting off their funds would encourage the LTTE to talk. Ambassador Blake said that while the US would be glad to see Prabakharan captured or killed, the U.S. and India should not allow Rajapaksa to predicate progress on a power-sharing agreement on Prabhakaran,s demise.
5.(C) Tirumurti denied there is any pressure on the GOI from Tamil Nadu about the situation in Sri Lanka, saying that there is no sympathy for the LTTE there now. He added that would only change if refugees start arriving in Tamil Nadu in much greater numbers. He said the main issuein Tamil Nadu has been recent incidents involving the Sri Lankan Navy firing on Indian fishing vessels in Sri Lankan waters. He expressed satisfaction that a commission led by former senior Sri Lankan diplomat Nihal Rodrigo is engaged in productive meetings with India on a way forward on such matters. Ambassador Blake asked if Sri Lanka is likely to be a factor in the upcoming elections in India. Tirumurti responded that it is an emotional issue and that the opposition may try to use it to their favor. Disputes about Kachchitivu Island may also come up in Tamil Nadu elections, he said, but the GOI hopes to address it as a fishing issue, not a territory issue.
6.(U) Ambassador Blake has cleared this message.

MULFORD

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