wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03COLOMBO47
2003-01-08 11:10:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Colombo
Cable title:  

Day two of talks: GSL and LTTE agree that

Tags:   PGOV  PTER  MOPS  CE  NO  TH  LTTE 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 000047 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SA, SA/INS; NSC FOR E. MILLARD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/08/03
TAGS: PGOV PTER MOPS CE NO TH LTTE
SUBJECT: Day two of talks: GSL and LTTE agree that
further discussion of security zone issue is needed

Refs: (A) Ops Center/Colombo 01/08/03 telecon
- (B) SA/INS-Colombo 01/07/03 telecon
- (C) Colombo 39, and previous

(U) Classified by Lewis Amselem, Deputy Chief of
Mission. Reasons 1.5 (b, d).



1. (C) SUMMARY: On day two of talks in Thailand
(January 7), the GSL and Tamil Tigers began discussing
the sensitive Jaffna security zone issue. The two sides
did not reach agreement on how to handle the zones, but
they agreed to continue discussing the matter. On a
negative note, the Tigers reiterated that they have no
intention of participating in the de-escalation sub-
committee until the security zones are dealt with. The
talks seem to be going relatively well, but the security
zone issue is proving problematic. END SUMMARY.



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


DAY TWO: NO AGREEMENT ON SECURITY ZONES


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





2. (SBU) Day two of talks (January 7) between the Sri
Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam (LTTE) took place in a "cordial" atmosphere,
according to the Norwegian government facilitators.
(Note: The talks are taking place at a resort hotel in
the Bangkok area from January 6-9 -- see Reftels. The
parties are scheduled to hold a press conference on
January 10.) With respect to day two's substance, both
sides began discussing the sensitive issue of the Sri
Lankan military's "high security zones" in Jaffna
District. They did not reach agreement on how to handle
the zones during their preliminary discussions. Anton
Balasingham, the chief Tiger negotiator, continued to
make clear that the LTTE wanted to see the zones reduced
in size. Balasingham told the press that the LTTE would
not accept any effort to link a possible military
withdrawal from the zones with disarmament of LTTE cadre
wanting to enter them.



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


SECURITY ZONES REMAIN ON THE AGENDA


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





3. (SBU) The two sides did agree to continue discussing
the security zone issue during the remainder of the
talks. (Note: An outside observer, a retired Indian
general named Sathish Nambiar, is reportedly producing a
report on the security zones. Contacts told Mission
that the plan is for this report to be presented to the
parties as a basis for further discussions at the talks
-- and, if need be, after.) In the meantime, the two
sides agreed to work to ensure the return of Internally
Displaced Persons (IDPs) to non-security zone-located
points of origin in the north. Commenting on this
latter agreement, G.L. Peiris, a key GSL negotiator,
told the press that the GSL and LTTE "decided to deal
with the problem of the security zones in a sensible way
by dealing with things that can be immediately solved
like displaced person returns to other areas."



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


LTTE: SUB-COMMITTEE IS "DEFUNCT"


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





4. (SBU) On a negative note, the Tigers reiterated that
they have no intention of participating any longer in
the "De-escalation and Normalization" Sub-Committee. In
his remarks to the press on January 7, Balasingham made
clear that he considered the sub-committee "defunct" and
"useless," specifically adding that the group would not
be attending a January 14 meeting of the sub-committee
called by the GSL. In suspending Tiger participation in
the sub-committee, Balasingham underlined that the
Tigers wanted the security zone issue dealt with at the
political-level talks and he emphasized that Tiger
participation in those talks was not affected by its
decision to withdraw from the sub-committee. He also
promised that the Tigers would continue to participate
in the "Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs
in the North and East" Sub-Committee. (Note: Both of
these sub-committees were formed during the second round
of talks held in early November.) For its part, the GSL
has announced that it wants the de-escalation sub-
committee to continue its work.



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


REACTION


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





5. (C) The talks appear to be meeting the expectations
of Colombo observers. Kethesh Loganathan of the Center
for Policy Alternatives, a well-regarded local think-
tank, told polchief January 8 that it was clear going
into the talks that the issue of the security zones
would a difficult one to resolve. He thought it was
constructive that the two sides had agreed to continue
to discuss the issue, while working on other matters,
such as ways to move forward on developmental assistance
and resettlement. Gajen Ponnambalam, a MP for the Tamil
National Alliance, agreed that it was positive that
there had not been a breakdown in the talks over the
security zone issue. He stressed, however, that the
issue of the zones was a "vital" one for Tamils that
needed to be resolved quickly.



6. (SBU) (((Note: Both Loganathan and Ponnambalam
ridiculed press play in government-controlled newspapers
asserting that the two sides had somehow "settled" the
security zone issue. Loganathan said this type of
coverage was just "spin" by the GSL. Ponnambalam was
also mystified by reporting by wire services, including
Reuters and AP, highlighting the Tigers' decision not to
participate in the de-escalation sub-committee as if it
was some sort of major crisis for the peace process. He
noted that the LTTE had "clearly signaled" its intent to
take this action in public comments made last week,
while it noted at the same time that it still supported
the peace process. End Note.)))



7. (U) (((Note: In late-breaking news from day three
of the talks, January 8, wire services are reporting
that the two sides have agreed to give the World Bank a
direct role in aid disbursements for the north and
east.)))



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


COMMENT


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





8. (C) Based on what we are hearing, the talks seem to
be going relatively well. As expected, the security
zone issue is proving problematic. It seems likely that
the two sides may not be able to agree on a framework
providing for the resolution of this issue at this round
of talks. If they do, however, it would a major
breakthrough at this point. While not unexpected given
its previous public comments, the Tigers' decision not
to participate in the de-escalation sub-committee was
unfortunate. The action highlights just how serious the
group takes the security zone issue and its willingness
to pressure the GSL on the matter. END COMMENT.



9. (U) Minimize considered.

WILLS