By Colombo Telegraph –
“United National Party and opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe believed that the U.S. was on the right track in publishing the ‘Incidents Report’ and should ‘keep the pressure on the GSL’” the US Embassy wrote to Washington.
A leaked US unclassified, but “SENSITIVE” diplomatic cable, recounts details of meetings the US Senate Foreign Relations staff members has had with the senior government officials, international organizations, political leaders, civil-society activists, and journalists between November 2-8, 2009. The Colombo Telegraph found the cable from WikiLeaks database. The cable was written on December 1, 2009 by the US Ambassador to Colombo Patricia A. Butenis.
Under the subheading of “UNP LEADER: ‘KEEP THE PRESSURE ON’” the US Ambassador wrote “ Wikremesinghe felt the Sri Lanka Sri Lankans didn’t want to lose their relation with the U.S. and the government’s criticism of U.S. recent remarks were ‘complete nonsense.’ He was not particularly concerned with China’s developing relationship with Sri Lanka. He countered that if China continued to expand its position in Sri Lanka, India would intervene and keep a balance on that front.”
“On the issue of media freedom, Wikremesinghe was very critical of government’s suppression of free press. He was optimistic about defeating President Rajapaksa in the upcoming elections, and was confident about becoming the next Prime Minister and doing the ‘needed surgery’ to improve the conditions in SL.” the Ambassador Butenis further wrote.
The Colombo Telegraph publishes the relevant part of the leaked cable below.
VZCZCXRO5326 PP RUEHBI DE RUEHLM #1054/01 3270240 ZNR UUUUU ZZH P 230240Z NOV 09 FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0805 INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 2075 RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 9103 RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 7345 RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 5246 RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 3500 RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 5184 RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0719 RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 4299 RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 9666 RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 6960 RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO 0040 RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3842 RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 COLOMBO 001054 SENSITIVE SIPDIS DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INSB E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM CE SUBJECT: SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE (SFRC) FACT FINDING MISSION TO SRI LANKA ¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On November 2-8, Senate Foreign Relations staff members Nilmini Rubin and Fatema Sumar visited Sri Lanka and held meetings with senior government officials, international organizations, political leaders, civil-society activists, and journalists to discuss post war reconciliation, resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs), the humanitarian situation, and media freedom. They also visited the South, East and IDP camp at Manik Farm. The StaffDel observed that the post-war situation in Sri Lanka was complex, particularly in light of possible elections; Sri Lankans no longer sensed a strong partnership with the U.S.; the U.S. "tool box" in dealing with the government of Sri Lanka (GSL) was self-limited; a sense of palpable fear still hung over the media and civil society; and while the GSL was making progress and doing some good things, SL had a long way to go on reconciliation and resettlement. Recognizing SL's geo-strategic importance to the U.S. and the current and long-term bilateral relationship, many SL interlocutors gave their recommendations on strengthening the relationship and noted a need for more U.S. assistance for resettlement and demining. END SUMMARY. UNP LEADER: "KEEP THE PRESSURE ON" ----------------------------------- ¶8. (SBU) United National Party (UNP) and opposition leader Ranil Wikremesinghe believed that the U.S. was on the right track in publishing the "Incidents Report" and should "keep the pressure on the GSL." Wikremesinghe felt the Sri Lankans didn't want to lose COLOMBO 00001054 004 OF 006 their relationship with the U.S. and the government's criticism of U.S. recent remarks were "complete nonsense." He was not particularly concerned with China's developing relationship with Sri Lanka. He countered that if China continued to expand its position in Sri Lanka, India would intervene and keep a balance on that front. On the issue of media freedom, Wikremesinghe was very critical of the government's suppression of the free press. He was optimistic about defeating President Rajapaksa in the upcoming elections, and was confident about becoming the next Prime Minister and doing the "needed surgery" to improve the conditions in SL. BUTENIS