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Cablegate: Sri Lanka: Expressing Disappointment in Defense

VZCZCXRO2522
OO RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHNEH
DE RUEHC #7719 2900042
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O P 170023Z OCT 09
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO IMMEDIATE 6126
INFO RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 4004
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN PRIORITY 6679
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 5493
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 7226
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 7310
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 8871
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 6917
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 6734
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 2672
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 8267
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE PRIORITY 6656
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0895
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 9825
RUEHNEH/AMCONSUL HYDERABAD PRIORITY 0128
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA PRIORITY 3435
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 2852
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 8226
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 9705
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY

UNCLAS STATE 107719

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER MCAP MARR ECON EFIN EAID IMF CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: EXPRESSING DISAPPOINTMENT IN DEFENSE
BUDGET BOOST

REF: COLOMBO 943

1. (U) This is an action request. Please see paragraph 3.

2. (SBU) Background: The GSL request to Parliament for
nearly $300 million in supplementary defense spending, which,
per ref A reporting, will provide for recruiting of 25,000
new soldiers and constructing new military bases in the
North, is disappointing. While we acknowledge GSL security
concerns, recognize that that the Sri Lankan armed forces
carry out a number of civilian tasks in the North, and
appreciate the need to maintain operational effectiveness,
such large increases are difficult to understand in the
context of a greatly diminished LTTE threat, the continued
presence of 250,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in
closed IDP camps, and the North's massive reconstruction
needs. The U.S. would find it difficult to support
reconstruction assistance under these circumstances, and
would also need to take a critical look at future
disbursements under the IMF program.

3. (SBU) Action Request: As soon as practicable, post
should deliver to the highest-level appropriate GSL political
and economic officials the following points:

-We acknowledge Sri Lankan security concerns, and recognize
that the Sri Lankan armed forces continue to carry out a
number of civilian tasks in the North. Moreover, we
appreciate the need to maintain operational effectiveness.

-However, we are disappointed by the government's request to
Parliament for nearly $300 million in supplementary defense
spending.

-Such a large increase (15 percent) is difficult to
understand or justify in the context of a greatly diminished
LTTE threat, ongoing humanitarian needs in the IDP camps, and
massive reconstruction demands in the North.

-The approval of the IMF program last July did much to
support improved economic conditions in Sri Lanka. It is
important that these gains not be squandered. We cannot
understand nor support increases in military spending that
would crowd out human and infrastructure investment and be
counter-productive to long-term and sustainable economic
growth.

-The supplemental military spending request underscores the
need to transfer additional responsibilities for
administration and security in the North to civilian
authorities.

-We urge the government to reconsider this request and to
direct domestic resources toward, and to utilize
international resources transparently in support of, Sri
Lanka's urgent humanitarian and reconstruction needs.

4. (U) Please convey GSL responses to Sri Lanka/Maldives
desk officer, Anthony Renzulli, RenzulliAF@state.sgov.gov,
(202)647-178.
CLINTON

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