By Colombo Telegraph –
“Since Norway preferred not to deliver the private messages to the Sri Lankan government to preserve its facilitator role, participants accepted that ambassadors in Colombo should meet with Rajapaksa separately. Participants rejected an EU suggestion for high-level visits by Co-Chair officials from capitals. German Ambassador to Sri Lanka Weerth raised concern that these visits are often “spun” by the government to imply international support for its actions. Ambassador Blake disagreed, stating Boucher’s last visit led to positive results. Akashi seconded this view, but emphasized that influencing Rajapaksa ‘requires psychology,’ as his southern constituency is nationalistic and irritated by what it perceives as outside interference.” the US Embassy Oslo informed Washington.
A Leaked “CONFIDENTIAL” US diplomatic cable, dated July 24, 2007, recounts the details of a meeting the representatives of the Sri Lanka Co-Chairs (United States, European Union, Japan, and Norway) had in Oslo on June 29,2007 to discuss the developments in Sri Lanka.The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database which is classified by DCM Kevin M. Johnson.
Placing a comment the US Embassy Oslo wrote “the The Oslo meetings offered a good opportunity to exchange views on current strategy and dispel the rumors that Co-Chair unity is fragmenting. While participants agreed that there is little to no progress to report since the Co-Chairs met in Washington in November, there was also a sense that the rising economic consequences of the conflict, the Tigers, stronger than expected showing in recent engagements in the north and east, are for the first time exerting political pressures on President Rajapaksa from his southern base to give peace a chance and address the human rights problem. Participants also agreed that the Co-Chairs continue to have an important role and must press forward in their efforts to encourage a credible All Parties outcome, greater progress on human rights, and greater humanitarian access in the north and east.”
Related posts to this cable;
Read the cable below for further details;
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C O N F I D E N T I A L OSLO 000723 SIPDIS SIPDIS SCA/INS (MGOWER, CSIM), EUR/NB (RDALLAND) E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/06/2017 TAGS: PHUM PREL PTER CE NO SUBJECT: SRI LANKA CO-CHAIRS MEET IN OSLO Classified By: DCM Kevin M. Johnson, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) ¶1. (C) Summary: Representatives of the Sri Lanka Co-Chairs (United States, European Union, Japan, and Norway) met in Oslo on June 29, to discuss the latest developments in Sri Lanka. All participants agreed that the situation is bleak with few small signs of opportunity. Assistant Secretary Richard Boucher heading the U.S. delegation stressed that the Government,s failure to address human rights problems and the need for a devolution proposal that meets Tamil needs had united Sri Lanka,s Tamils on the wrong side. In response to Norway,s skepticism that the All Parties Representative Committee would develop a viable devolution proposal, Boucher urged that the Co-Chairs give the All Parties process a chance since a credible proposal would be an important signal to Tamils. The Co-Chairs discussed the political/security, humanitarian, development assistance, and civil society situations. Participants agreed that Co-Chair ambassadors in country will present five points to President Rajapaksa (see paragraph 7) while Norway will present Co-Chair points to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The participants also agreed to begin a dialogue with the Tamil diaspora communities in their respective countries. End Summary. ------------- Briefings ------------- ¶2. (C) Norwegian Special Envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer opened the discussion by giving a summary of the working level meeting that took place on June 28. The political and security group, chaired by U.S. Ambassador Robert Blake concluded that the Sri Lankan government needs to take bold steps to achieve peace. These included expediting the All Parties Representative Counsel efforts to develop a credible devolution proposal that goes beyond the proposals outlined by President Kumaratunga in 2000, not undertaking any military offensives in the North, stopping human rights violations, encouraging the main Sri Lankan political opposition UNP to cooperate on a devolution proposal, reining in the Karuna group, and allowing Norway to resume meeting with the Tamil Tigers. ¶3. (C) With regard to human rights, participants agreed that while there are major areas of concern, there are also some positive indicators. The Government should be encouraged to take bold actions to stop all human rights abuses. Participants agreed the Co-Chairs should support the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) and encourage them to resolve their dispute with the Attorney General through dialogue rather than public letters, bring indictments in four cases that the Government claims are ready for this phase, and support UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour,s proposal to establish a field office in Sri Lanka. The EU, which led the human rights discussion, agreed to report on estimated human rights trends, based on statistics. ¶4. (C) Japanese Special Representative Yasushi Akashi led the discussion on development assistance. The largest aid donor to Sri Lanka, Japan reported that total aid flows to Sri Lanka fell from $1.6 billion in 2005 to $1.5 billion in 2006 (reflecting a decrease in tsunami recovery assistance). The Japanese also revealed that because all of their longstanding aid in concessionary yen loans, the value of Sri Lankan repayments on such loans exceeds the value of the new money Japan is allocating. The Co-Chair participants agreed that external humanitarian assistance to the civilian population should continue. However, development assistance for the east should await an improvement in the security situation in the East and improved access for international non-governmental organizations. Co-Chairs and other donors must also press for improved humanitarian access to the Vanni region. Several participants expressed concern that the Government equates aid with support for its policies. The EU noted that it plans to increase aid, channeled through the government, conditioned on the improvement of the political situation. Norway suggested engaging China in aid discussions. The EU suggested such a dialogue be conducted in Brussels where recent engagement with China on Africa has proved productive. 5 (C) The final working group discussion dealt with "Track Two" and diaspora issues. Participants agreed on adopting a "long-term" approach, with the Co-Chairs engaging their respective diaspora communities, regardless of the hard-line pro-Tiger views that many in the diaspora espouse. Norway emphasized and all participants agreed that these contacts cannot replace Norway,s direct contact with the Tigers in Killinochchi, particularly given that diaspora communities may be reticent to talk to governments following the recent arrest of Tamil activists in London on charges of aiding terrorist organizations. More enerally, participants agreed that Track II initatives that several countries have underway can help define the differences between the negotiatin positions of the Tigers and the government and erhaps offer suggestions on how to bridge the gaps. ------------------------- Principals Statements -------------------------- ¶6. (C) Norwegian Minister of International Development Erik Solheim described the government and the Tigers as "two entities not interested in diplomatic niceties," who are not responding to Norway,s messages. Solheim said President Rajapaksa is focused on his Sinhalese electorate in Sri Lanka, "like a US Congressman" focused on his constituents. While Solheim,s recent meeting with Rajapaksa in Geneva was "pleasant," his overall sense was the president has no plan or strategy to solve the Tamil issue nor does he appear that interested since he does not even have a good Tamil advisor. On the other side, Tiger leader Prabhakaran is preoccupied with waging war. Solheim stated that it has become more difficult for Norway to assess the current Tiger position without regular contact and without a senior Tiger leader outside the country to fill the shoes of the late Balasingham. Solheim emphasized the need to keep Norway,s communication with them open, particularly through access to Killinochchi. ¶7. (C) Solheim summarized five points that the Co-Chairs agreed to present to the government and Tigers: - There is no international support for war in Sri Lanka. The conflict cannot be won through military means. - Human rights abuses must stop now. There are no acceptable excuses. As long as human rights abuses continue, all those working in Sri Lanka (aid groups, journalists, businesspeople, etc.) will continue to be afraid. - Both parties must give uninhibited humanitarian access, even if the war continues. - If the government wants to restart talks, it must establish contact with the Tigers, at least through Norway. The government cannot be advised by the Norwegian facilitators if the latter have no contact with the Tigers. Preparations for potential talks should begin immediately. - The All Parties process should be completed, and a credible devolution package for resolving the conflict presented. (FYI: On this point, Solheim thought not much progress will result from the All Parties process. Even if there is a devolution proposal, he believes it is unlikely to be of interest to the Tamil Tigers. End FYI) ¶8. (C) Assistant Secretary Boucher emphasized the futility of further military action. He stated the Government has begun to see the consequences of its actions such as decreased tourism and investment, and the shutdown of Colombo airport following the Tamil Tiger aerial attacks. Boucher noted the difficulty in "reading" Prabhakaran and suggested broadening discussions with the Tamil side to include non-Tiger Tamils such as the Tamil National Alliance. Boucher suggested that groups of experts from countries with significant Tamil diasporas such as Canada and India could usefully meet to map out what can be achieved in negotiations. Finally, while accepting Solheim,s point that the All Parties process should not be overstressed, Boucher emphasized that if the process can deliver a credible proposal, it would provide a strong signal to Tamils. For the moment, the absence of action to address their grievances had united Tamils on the wrong side. ¶9. (C) Akashi agreed that the All Parties process is a "slender hope that should not be discounted" and urged the Co-Chairs to press President Rajapaksa to use all his energies to bolster the process and sell its final proposal. Akashi said the international community should not try to isolate Rajapaksa, but rather capitalize on whatever positive actions emerge. Although Akashi felt All Parties Chairman Vitarana may be overconfident about the All Parties process, Vitarana is also highly competent. If and when the All Parties reach a consensus, the Co-Chairs should press Rajapaksa to push the package through parliament and a referendum quickly. ----------------------------- Delivering the Messages ----------------------------- ¶10. (C) Since Norway preferred not to deliver the private messages to the Sri Lankan government to preserve its facilitator role, participants accepted that ambassadors in Colombo should meet with Rajapaksa separately. Participants rejected an EU suggestion for high-level visits by Co-Chair officials from capitals. German Ambassador to Sri Lanka Weerth raised concern that these visits are often "spun" by the government to imply international support for its actions. Ambassador Blake disagreed, stating Boucher,s last visit led to positive results. Akashi seconded this view, but emphasized that influencing Rajapaksa "requires psychology," as his southern constituency is nationalistic and irritated by what it perceives as outside interference. Comment ------------- ¶11. (C) The Oslo meetings offered a good opportunity to exchange views on current strategy and dispel the rumors that Co-Chair unity is fragmenting. While participants agreed that there is little to no progress to report since the Co-Chairs met in Washington in November, there was also a sense that the rising economic consequences of the conflict, the Tigers, stronger than expected showing in recent engagements in the north and east, are for the first time exerting political pressures on President Rajapaksa from his southern base to give peace a chance and address the human rights problem. Participants also agreed that the Co-Chairs continue to have an important role and must press forward in their efforts to encourage a credible All Parties outcome, greater progress on human rights, and greater humanitarian access in the north and east. Whitney