Colombo Telegraph

WikiLeaks: “Strictly Protect Lalith” Blake Asked

By Colombo Telegraph

“Weeratunga (please strictly protect throughout) acknowledged the Ambassador was right and said he had been discussing this same problem with Peace Secretariat Director Kohona and others within the government.” the US Ambassador to Colombo informed Washington.

Lalith Weerathunga

“He said the military was operating on a long leash and urged the Ambassador to be in touch with Secretary of Defense Rajapaksa to make these same points since he had the best chance of influencing military decision making on this important point. (Ambassador will do so.)” the US Embassy updated the US Secretary of State.

The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable is classified as “CONFIDENTIAL” and written by the Ambassador Robert O. Blake.

Blake described Lalith Weeratunga as “defacto National Security Advisor” and “one of the experienced moderates in the government, but has little ability to influence the powerful military.”

Read the cable below for further details;

VZCZCXRO3203
PP RUEHBI
DE RUEHLM #1863/01 3121312
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 081312Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4674
INFO RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 6496
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 4553
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 3299
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0179
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 3388
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2469
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0067
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 7037
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 4858
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 001863

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR A/S BOUCHER AND SCA/INS, USPACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/08/2016
TAGS: PREL MOPS CE
SUBJECT: MEETING WITH PRESIDENTIAL SECRETARY:  AMBASSADOR
PRESSES FOR GREATER MILITARY RESTRAINT; SECRETARY REPORTS
ON GSL EFFORTS TO RESUPPLY JAFFNA

Classified By: Ambassador Robert O. Blake, Jr. for reasons
1.4 (b) and (d).

Need for Greater Military Restraint
-----------------------------------

1.  (C) Ambassador met alone with Presidential Secretary
(defacto National Security Advisor) Lalith Weeratunga on
November 7 to register concern that the Sri Lankan military's
recent military actions had become increasingly difficult to
justify as "defensive."  The U.S. wanted to continue to
support Sri Lanka's right to defend itself, but rather than
exercising military restraint, the Sri Lankan military
appeared to be using every opportunity it could to pursue
military action against the LTTE.  For example, the military
appeared to be using reports of LTTE meetings such as that in
Kilinochchi or minor LTTE military movements to justify
aerial bombings of LTTE positions that were often
disproportionate and clearly not in the spirit of the
military restraint that the government had committed itself
to.  Continued disproportionate and offensive military action
risked an equal response by the LTTE, possibly in Colombo or
the south, which in turn would lead to a further escalation
of the conflict and diminish pro
spects for resuming peace negotiations.

2.  (C) Weeratunga (please strictly protect throughout)
acknowledged the Ambassador was right and said he had been
discussing this same problem with Peace Secretariat Director
Kohona and others within the government.  He said the
military was operating on a long leash and urged the
Ambassador to be in touch with Secretary of Defense Rajapaksa
to make these same points since he had the best chance of
influencing military decision making on this important point.
 (Ambassador will do so.)

Government Re-Supplying Jaffna
------------------------------

3.  (C) Turning to the humanitarian situation in Jaffna,
Ambassador asked what the GSL's plan was to relieve
conditions there.  Weeratunga responded that he had been
asked by the President to chair a high-level task force with
the Commissioner General of Essential Services and others to
organize a GSL air and sealift operation of humanitarian
supplies to Jaffna.  As a result the government was now
sending three C-130 loads a day of medical and other supplies
and was organizing shiploads of bulk grains and fuel that
were going up Sri Lanka's western coast from Colombo to the
port of Kankesantural (commonly known as KKS) north of
Jaffna.  He said he expected to have all of Jaffna's needs
fully met in the near future and to have a one-month supply
of buffer stocks of food, fuel and medical supplies by
December 1.

4.  (C) Ambassador welcomed the government's pro-active work
to help relieve conditions in Jaffna, but noted that such an
operation had to be very costly for the GSL.  He asked
whether it wouldn't make sense for the longer term to open
the A-9 road?  Weeratunga first responded that the government
would never open the A-9 road both because it does not want
to give the LTTE the opportunity to tax vehicles going
through the areas it controls, but also because it does not
want to allow the LTTE greater flexibility to move military
equipment and personnel along the A-9.  With respect to the
tax issue the Ambassador suggested that the co-chairs were
thinking of a proposal that would allow the UN or ICRC to
organize convoys of humanitarian supplies on a weekly or
bi-weekly basis along the A-9.  In return the LTTE would
agree not to tax these convoys and would also agree not to
attack ICRC or UN flagged vessels carrying humanitarian
supplies from Trincomalee to Jaffna.  Would the government
support such a proposal he
 asked?  Weeratunga said he thought they would for limited
exceptions such as this, but that a permanent opening of the
A-9 was likely to meet significant resistance.

Comment and Action Request

COLOMBO 00001863  002 OF 002

--------------------------

5.  (C) Weeratunga is one of the experienced moderates in the
government, but has little ability to influence the powerful
military.  Ambassador will visit Ampara on November 9-10,
after which he will seek a private meeting with the Defense
Secretary to underline the need for military restraint.  It

SIPDIS
would be helpful if U/S Burns or A/S Boucher could plan to
call Secretary Rajapaksa following the Ambassador's meeting
to reinforce Washington's concern and help us prepare the
ground for the November 20-21 Co-Chair meeting in Washington.
 We will report on the Rajapaksa meeting first.
BLAKE

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