28 September, 2020

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WikiLeaks: President Chandrika a Francophile, US cable contends

By Colombo Telegraph –

“The president’s Sorbonne education also appears to have affected her and she is quite pro-French.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeak database. The cable classified as “CONFIDENTIAL” analyses the Sri Lanka’s pro – US foreign policy under Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The cable was written on May 29, 2003 by the US Ambassador to Colombo E. Ashley Wills.

While she is not anti- U.S. per se, President Kumaratunga's education also appears to have affected her and she is quite pro-French

Ambassador Wills wrote “In addition to the entrenched bureaucracy in the MFA, Wickremesinghe’s tilt toward the U.S. has also encountered sharp resistance from the president, her People’s Alliance (PA) party, and the radical Janantha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) party. While she is not anti- U.S. per se, President Kumaratunga — who shares a very tense cohabitation relationship with the PM — is not particularly friendly to our international positions on issues as diverse as Iraq, climate change, the ICC, general North/South affairs, etc.”

“Kumaratunga’s stance seems to be strongly influenced by the fact that her parents, who were both prime ministers, were advocates of NAM-type thinking on the international stage. The president’s Sorbonne education also appears to have affected her and she is quite pro-French. As could be expected, the president’s PA party basically mirrors her perspectives. As for the leftist JVP, the party has always been strongly anti-U.S., accusing us routinely in public of being the “arch-imperialist. Given that an alliance between a large section of the PA with the JVP is set to be announced soon, there is little indication that Opposition views of the U.S. will improve in the near-term.” Wills further wrote.

Below we give the relevant part of the confidential cable;

Related news to this cable;

WikiLeaks: “Ranil is a Yankee, like his uncle” US cable implies

WikiLeaks: GL a Pomme, Milinda a Yankee, US cable contends

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 COLOMBO 000909

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SA, SA/INS, S/P, IO, INR/NESA; NSC FOR E.
MILLARD

LONDON FOR POL/RIEDEL

E.O. 12958:  DECL:  05-29-13
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR CE UN
SUBJECT:  Sri Lanka's foreign policy:  Prime Minister
tilts toward U.S., but faces resistance

Refs:  Colombo 873, and previous

(U) Classified by Ambassador E. Ashley Wills.
Reasons:  1.5 (b,d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: Since coming to power, PM Wickremesinghe
has taken steps to steer Sri Lankan foreign policy
closer to the U.S.  In doing this, he has had successes,
including the signing of an ICC waiver with the U.S. and
in regard to Iraq where the GSL steered a constructive
course.  Moreover, one of his key ministers recently
proposed that the GSL take the lead in forming some sort
of counterweight to NAM.  That said, the PM's initiative
has faced stiff resistance from MFA bureaucrats.  In
addition, the president and Opposition, backed by much
of the press and the intelligentsia, have cut into his
room for maneuver via their generally anti-U.S. biases.

2.  (C) In the post-Iraq war environment, we think the
GSL will continue to want to draw closer to the U.S.
With the PM facing a precarious cohabitation situation,
however, additional steps toward the USG will have to be
carefully plotted out.  Nonetheless, with Sri Lanka
facing a difficult peace process and needing help to
constrain the Tamil Tigers, we think the larger trend in
the country provides ballast for the PM's pro-U.S.
proclivities.  END SUMMARY.

--------------------
PM tilts toward U.S.
--------------------

3. (C) Since coming to power in late 2001, Prime
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has taken steps to steer
Sri Lankan foreign policy closer to the U.S.
Wickremesinghe's pro-U.S. views have been long-standing
and are in part a function of family connections.  His
uncle, J.R. Jayewardene, for example, was Sri Lanka's
president from the late 1970s through the late 1980s,
and maintained very close links with the U.S.
(Note:  In fact, Jayewardene was called "Yankee Dickey"
by leftists for years.)  Moreover, Wickremesinghe, who
comes from a very wealthy business family, is a strong
advocate of free enterprise and strongly opposed to the
disastrous socialist policies of former governments.
Wickremesinghe is also surprisingly knowledgeable about
U.S. history and politics; he is an avid reader about
the American Civil War, U.S. military history, and U.S.
legislation.  The prime minister's pro-U.S. views also
emerge out of his political calculus that Sri Lanka
needs the support of the international community,
especially the U.S., to constrain the Tamil Tigers.
With the peace process his government's number one
priority bar none, the prime minister has worked hard to
secure U.S. support for his efforts in this area from
very early on in his tenure.

4.  (C) In pursuing this pro-U.S. course, Wickremesinghe
has been supported by two dynamic advisers, Minister of
Constitutional Affairs G.L. Peiris and Minister of
Economic Reform Milinda Moragoda.  (Note:  Beyond their
official titles, both Peiris and Moragoda play key roles
as peace process negotiators and policy formulators for
the GSL.)  In general, the Oxford-educated Peiris' focus
has been more on cultivating ties with former colonial
power Britain and other Commonwealth countries, but he
is very pro-U.S. and often visits Washington.  More than
Peiris', Moragoda's direct focus has been on cultivating
relations with the U.S. and with India.  Re the U.S.,
the intelligent, articulate Moragoda is a perfect fit.
Born in Washington, D.C, he is a dual national Amcit
(please protect) married to an American, with plenty of
Washington connections, many from his days as a visiting
fellow at the Heritage Foundation and at Harvard.  A
"big picture" person, Moragoda is also highly aware that
the U.S. is the most powerful country in the world, and
he feels that it is better that Sri Lanka recognize that
fact and work within it.

5.  (C) (((Note:  Of late, the duo of Peiris and
Moragoda have been joined by a new pro-U.S. player:  In
just several months on the job, Ambassador Devinda
Subasinghe, a U.S.-educated financier and close friend
of the PM, has already made a mark in Washington.))) 

11.  (C) In addition to the entrenched bureaucracy in
the MFA, Wickremesinghe's tilt toward the U.S. has also
encountered sharp resistance from the president, her
People's Alliance (PA) party, and the radical Janantha
Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) party.  While she is not anti-
U.S. per se, President Kumaratunga -- who shares a very
tense cohabitation relationship with the PM -- is not
particularly friendly to our international positions on
issues as diverse as Iraq, climate change, the ICC,
general North/South affairs, etc.  Kumaratunga's stance
seems to be strongly influenced by the fact that her
parents, who were both prime ministers, were advocates
of NAM-type thinking on the international stage.  The
president's Sorbonne education also appears to have
affected her and she is quite pro-French.  As could be
expected, the president's PA party basically mirrors her
perspectives.  As for the leftist JVP, the party has
always been strongly anti-U.S., accusing us routinely in
public of being the "arch-imperialist.  Given that an
alliance between a large section of the PA with the JVP
is set to be announced soon, there is little indication
that Opposition views of the U.S. will improve in the
near-term.
WILLS
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