22 September, 2020

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WikiLeaks: Solheim Returned To Sri Lanka ‘Empty-Handed’ And Urged GSL To Take A ‘Bold Step’

By Colombo Telegraph

“Norwegian Special Envoy Erik Solheim has returned to Sri Lanka ’empty-handed,’ Dhanapala said, with no fresh initiative to offer from the Tigers. (Note: Solheim arrived in Sri Lanka September 14 and will depart o/a September 17. End note.) According to Dhanapala, Solheim has urged the GSL to take a ‘bold step’–which Dhanapala interpreted to mean accept the Tigers’ controversial proposal for an interim administration as a basis for resumed negotiations–but could not offer the GSL any reciprocal assurance that such a ‘bold step,’ if offered, would be accepted by the LTTE. Without some kind of assurance of how the LTTE would react, the ‘bold step’ urged by Solheim would be nothing but ‘a leap in the dark,’ Dhanapala said, adding that he was ‘puzzled’ that the Norwegians seemed to expect the GSL to take that political risk. He expressed little confidence that Solheim would make an effort to impress upon his LTTE interlocutors the Government’s political constraints.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

Photo Scanpix

A Leaked ‘Confidential’ US diplomatic cable, dated September 15, 2004, updated the Secretary of State regarding and a  meeting Ambassador  Jeffrey J. Lunstead had with the President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Peace Secretariat head Jayantha Dhanapala . The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable is signed by the US Ambassador to Colombo Jeffrey J. Lunstead.

The ambassador wrote; “Because the GSL is the more rational party, the Ambassador said, it unfairly receives more pressure from other actors to be flexible and offer compromises. In addition, the aid given by other governments and mulitlateral organizations gives them the opportunity to apply pressure on the GSL, he noted. The LTTE, on the other hand, seems generally unresponsive to such pressure, readily subordinating incentives like socio-economic development for its purported constituents to political issues. How can donor governments help provide positive incentives for the LTTE to accept negotiations? the Ambassador asked. The GSL has already undertaken some confidence-building measures–for example, the President’s announcement that she is willing to include the controversial ‘interim arrangement’ on a possible agenda for negotiations–and could do more, like increase patrolling in the East to reduce factional violence, Dhanapala responded. The LTTE, however, might respond best to pressure from the expatriate Tamil community, which finances, either voluntarily or involuntarily, much of its operations, he asserted, adding that he believes pressure from the Tamil diaspora helped persuade the LTTE to accept a ceasefire. He urged the USG to expand contact with the Tamil diaspora in the U.S. to this end.”

“Dhanapala agreed that the split between Karuna, the Tigers’ former Eastern military commander, and LTTE headquarters appears to have ‘faded as an issue.’ The Tigers remain concerned, however, about their grip on the East, he suggested. The situation in the northeastern district of Trincomalee is ‘very worrisome,’ Dhanapala reported, where extensive LTTE bunkers could put Tiger artillery within reach of ships approaching the harbor. The LTTE’s ‘lock on security’ in Trincomalee infringes on the GSL’s responsibilities under the international law of the sea to safeguard shipping in those waters, he asserted. The Indian government has already raised these concerns to the Nordic-sponsored Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), he reported and suggested that the U.S. Embassy’s Defense Attache might raise it as well. The LTTE’s demand that the GSL swap LTTE detainees for two Sinhalese home guards the Tigers abducted in Trincomalee on August 18 has also increased tensions. Both the Government and SLMM have ruled out any such trade, he stated. In the north, the situation is Nagarkovil is ‘very, very tense.’ (Note: The GSL has accused the LTTE of expanding its forward defense line (FDL) in Nagarkovil, which is approximately 40 km north of Jaffna town. End note.) To make matters worse, the SLMM’s proposal for addressing this situation is ‘not even-handed,’ he complained; it recommended that both parties move back even though the GSL has not expanded its FDL.” the ambassador further wrote.

Read the relevant part of the cable below;

Related posts to this cable;

WikiLeaks: ‘Prabhakaran Thinks We’re As Monolithic As He Is’ – Dhanapala To US

WikiLeaks: Prime Minister Mahinda Described President Chandrika As “Very Confident”

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 COLOMBO 001526 

SIPDIS 

STATE FOR SA/INS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/13/2014
TAGS: PGOV PTER PREL CE LTTE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA:  AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES PEACE PROCESS
WITH PRIME MINISTER, PEACE SECRETARIAT 

REF: A. COLOMBO 1521
     ¶B. COLOMBO 1510
     ¶C. COLOMBO 1362 

Classified By: AMB. JEFFREY J. LUNSTEAD.  REASON:  1.4 (B,D). 

-------
SUMMARY
-------- 

¶1.  (C)  In separate meetings with Prime Minister Mahinda
Rajapakse and Peace Secretariat head Jayantha Dhanapala on
September 15, the Ambassador discussed prospects for resumed
negotiations between the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL) and
the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).  While Rajapakse
expressed guarded optimism, Dhanapala offered a bleaker
assessment, noting that in the lack of movement tensions
between the Tigers and GSL security forces have increased in
Trincomalee and Nagarkovil, while the small but vocal
"anti-peace" lobby in the South had become more strident.
Dhanapala does not expect the visit of Norwegian Special
Envoy Erik Solheim to alleviate the situation, since he has
returned to Sri Lanka with no new proposals from the LTTE.
Dhanapala asked the Embassy to raise LTTE encroachments in
Trincomalee with the ceasefire monitors.  Both Rajapakse and
Dhanapala agreed that the LTTE seems to have dropped the
March defection of Eastern military commander Karuna as a
pretext for refusing to negotiate.  End summary. 

-------------------
PM POSITIVE;
JVP CAN'T JUMP YET
------------------- 

¶2.  (C)  In a September 15 meeting with the Ambassador, Prime
Minister Mahinda Rajapakse described President Chandrika
Kumaratunga as "very confident" that she can soon restart
talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).  He
offered several reasons for this assessment.  The LTTE seems
to have stopped raising the March defection of Karuna, its
Eastern military commander, as a purported obstacle to
resumed negotiations, Rajapakse said.  In addition, the GSL
has formulated a proposal for a multipartisan Advisory
Council on the peace process (Ref A).  Finally, even the
Janatha Vimukti Peramuna (JVP), the left-wing nationalist
coalition partner that has been most vocal in criticizing the
LTTE's proposal for an interim admiinistration, has now said
it is ready to discuss it, he noted.  The PM thinks the JVP's
apparent turnaround is the result of a pragmatic political
calculus, rather than a fundamental change of heart.  It is
too early for the JVP to break ranks with the government,
Rajapakse said; the party will remain a coalition partner at
least until local council elections in April 2006, he
predicted.  Moreover, the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance
(TNA), with its 22 seats in Parliament, has pledged to
support the government if talks resume, he added. 

¶3.  (C)  For now, the President has shelved her proposal for
a constituent assembly to abolish the executive presidency,
Rajapakse indicated.  Instead, the government is formulating
a comprehensive package of proposed constitutional
changes--including an interim arrangement for the north and
east--instead of "doing it piece by piece," the PM said.  If
talks resume, the government and LTTE could reach a
negotiated settlement within one year, he predicted
confidently. 

-----------------------------------
PEACE SECRETARIAT MORE PESSIMISTIC
----------------------------------- 

¶4.  (C) In a meeting with the Ambassador the same day,
Jayantha Dhanapala, the head of the Peace Secretariat,
sounded a more pessimistic note.  Dhanapala opened the
meeting by thanking the USG for its August 19 statement
condemning LTTE violence, as well as for the firm line
communicated by Coordinator for Counterterrorism Ambassador
Cofer Black in the media coverage of his recent visit (Ref
B).  The indignant reaction to Ambassador Black's comments by
pro-LTTE TNA MPs and media show that "the penny has dropped"
and his words hit home, Dhanapala said.  The Ambassador and
Dhanapala agreed that the tough messages from the EU and the
Japanese have also been helpful (Ref C).  Nonetheless,
Dhanapala said, the basic situation remains "congealed in a
stalemate."  In the impasse, the anti-peace lobby, which
Dhanapala believes remains a tiny minority of the general
population, is becoming more vocal and strident, appearing to
dominate the discourse on this important issue and to
overwhelm supporters of the peace process.  Although the
President is personally committed to recommencing talks, she
has not, despite his urging, launched a pro-peace public
relations campaign to fill the vacuum and to refocus on the
benefits of peace, he said.  The Peace Secretariat cannot
mobilize public support for the peace process on its own, he
observed; that must be done at the political level. 

¶5.  (C) If the GSL succeeds in getting talks restarted,
Dhanapala continued, that will dissipate some of the
anti-peace lobby and "bring the JVP more earnestly on board"
once they see that negotiations are "a going thing."  The GSL
has already spent a good deal of time preparing its
negotiating position, he said.  Thus, if talks did resume, he
believes an agreement on an interim arrangement could be
reached quickly and discussion of a final arrangement begun.
The window of opportunity is closing quickly, however, he
warned.  If the LTTE decides not to resume talks until it
"cleans up" the East, the JVP might take advantage of the
lack of progress to engage with restive Muslim groups in the
East, he suggested, and thereby increase pressure for a
"de-merger" of the North and East.  Tiger supremo Prabhakaran
does not understand the domestic political constraints the
President is facing, Dhanapala said; "he thinks we're as
(politically) monolithic as he is." 

¶6.  (C)  Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has not
responded formally to the President's offer to join an
Advisory Council (Ref A), Dhanapala said.  He added that the
Government had made clear to Wickremesinghe that the proposed
Council would be "a sounding board" for parties, NGOs and
other stakeholders to voice their views on the peace process,
rather than an effort to achieve national consensus.  The
proposal is an attempt to address criticism that the previous
(Wickremesinghe) government had not been sufficiently
transparent and inclusive, he concluded. 

-------------------------
OSLO ENVOY "EMPTY-HANDED"
------------------------- 

¶7.  (C)  Norwegian Special Envoy Erik Solheim has returned to
Sri Lanka "empty-handed," Dhanapala said, with no fresh
initiative to offer from the Tigers.  (Note:  Solheim arrived
in Sri Lanka September 14 and will depart o/a September 17.
End note.)  According to Dhanapala, Solheim has urged the GSL
to take a "bold step"--which Dhanapala interpreted to mean
accept the Tigers' controversial proposal for an interim
administration as a basis for resumed negotiations--but could
not offer the GSL any reciprocal assurance that such a "bold
step," if offered, would be accepted by the LTTE.  Without
some kind of assurance of how the LTTE would react, the "bold
step" urged by Solheim would be nothing but "a leap in the
dark," Dhanapala said, adding that he was "puzzled" that the
Norwegians seemed to expect the GSL to take that political
risk.  He expressed little confidence that Solheim would make
an effort to impress upon his LTTE interlocutors the
Government's political constraints. 

¶8.  (C)  Because the GSL is the more rational party, the
Ambassador said, it unfairly receives more pressure from
other actors to be flexible and offer compromises.  In
addition, the aid given by other governments and mulitlateral
organizations gives them the opportunity to apply pressure on
the GSL, he noted.  The LTTE, on the other hand, seems
generally unresponsive to such pressure, readily
subordinating incentives like socio-economic development for
its purported constituents to political issues.  How can
donor governments help provide positive incentives for the
LTTE to accept negotiations? the Ambassador asked.  The GSL
has already undertaken some confidence-building measures--for
example, the President's announcement that she is willing to
include the controversial "interim arrangement" on a possible
agenda for negotiations--and could do more, like increase
patrolling in the East to reduce factional violence,
Dhanapala responded.  The LTTE, however, might respond best
to pressure from the expatriate Tamil community, which
finances, either voluntarily or involuntarily, much of its
operations, he asserted, adding that he believes pressure
from the Tamil diaspora helped persuade the LTTE to accept a
ceasefire.  He urged the USG to expand contact with the Tamil
diaspora in the U.S. to this end. 

---------------------------
TENSIONS IN NORTH AND EAST
--------------------------- 

¶9.  (C) Dhanapala agreed that the split between Karuna, the
Tigers' former Eastern military commander, and LTTE
headquarters appears to have "faded as an issue."  The Tigers
remain concerned, however, about their grip on the East, he
suggested.  The situation in the northeastern district of
Trincomalee is "very worrisome," Dhanapala reported, where
extensive LTTE bunkers could put Tiger artillery within reach
of ships approaching the harbor.  The LTTE's "lock on
security" in Trincomalee infringes on the GSL's
responsibilities under the international law of the sea to
safeguard shipping in those waters, he asserted.  The Indian
government has already raised these concerns to the
Nordic-sponsored Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), he
reported and suggested that the U.S. Embassy's Defense
Attache might raise it as well.  The LTTE's demand that the
GSL swap LTTE detainees for two Sinhalese home guards the
Tigers abducted in Trincomalee on August 18 has also
increased tensions.  Both the Government and SLMM have ruled
out any such trade, he stated.  In the north, the situation
is Nagarkovil is "very, very tense."  (Note:  The GSL has
accused the LTTE of expanding its forward defense line (FDL)
in Nagarkovil, which is approximately 40 km north of Jaffna
town.  End note.) To make matters worse, the SLMM's proposal
for addressing this situation is "not even-handed," he
complained; it recommended that both parties move back even
though the GSL has not expanded its FDL.
LUNSTEAD
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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    LTTE used Erik Solheim like a chewing gum. And spit him out. Poor Solheim is now jobless in Norway. Demonized by all parties.

    Don’t forget what happened to India’s Rajiv Gandhi either. Another God Father of LTTE.

    These are lessons for anyone contemplating backing up cunning LTTE rump in the West.

    My gut feeling is that Canada’s Neo-Con PM Harper and his gang are about to get their fingers burned rather soon.

    • 0
      0

      In Canada, Liberals and New Domocrats are getting stronger. Because of that Harper govt uses every trump card they have.

      Anyway, every time Tamils chose to hang on to sinking ships.

  • 0
    0

    This Cable Explains very well why Eric Solheim was a lousy and incapable of anything type – Peace negotiator and how partial was SLMM as the Sri Lankans complained.

  • 0
    0

    If you consider that TGS-Nopec, a Norwegian company granted exploration rights in the Mannar Basin during the Peace Talks, you can figure out the interest of Solheim in giving everything to the LTTE.
    It is not a coincidence that in 2006, the government breached the contract with the Norwegian company AND the truce, brookered by the Norwegians.
    Solheim in “Hard Talk” on the BBC affirmed that Norway’s interest in the matter was only to build a better world for his daugheters and all the future generation. In fact he was lobbying to secure a State for the Tigers and oil drilling for Norway.

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