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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05COLOMBO1112
2005-06-23 10:55:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Colombo
Cable title:  

NORWEGIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER ON JOINT

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PTER  CE  LTTE 
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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 001112 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SA/INS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/22/2015
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER CE LTTE
SUBJECT: NORWEGIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER ON JOINT
MECHANISM: PRESIDENT WANTS ME OUT OF TOWN WHEN IT IS
SIGNED, AND SHE WANTS ME TO LEAVE TOMORROW

REF: COLOMBO 1088 AND PREVIOUS

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

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 001112

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SA/INS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/22/2015
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER CE LTTE
SUBJECT: NORWEGIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER ON JOINT
MECHANISM: PRESIDENT WANTS ME OUT OF TOWN WHEN IT IS
SIGNED, AND SHE WANTS ME TO LEAVE TOMORROW

REF: COLOMBO 1088 AND PREVIOUS

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

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


1. (C) Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen told
donors on June 23 that the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL) will
sign a controversial agreement to coordinate tsunami aid with
the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) early June 24.
The so-called "joint mechanism" agreement is also expected to
be tabled in Parliament for debate as an adjournment motion
later the same day, according to Majority Leader Maitripala
Sirisena. No changes will be made to the text to satisfy
Muslim demands for greater representation. The Norwegians
are focusing now on implementation of the agreement and on
strengthening the ceasefire. The World Bank is ready to
implement the Joint Mechanism-linked Trust Fund quickly. The
Sinhalese nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which
left the government alliance on June 16 over disagreement on
the joint mechanism, has threatened an islandwide walk-out by
its unions to protest the agreement on June 24. End summary.

--------------
NORWEGIAN SAYS TSUNAMI AID AGREEMENT
TO BE SIGNED ON JUNE 24
--------------


2. (C) Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen
briefed the donor community on June 23, as he neared the
conclusion of his visit to Sri Lanka. Helgesen said
President Chandrika Kumaratunga "will sign" the so-called
"joint mechanism" agreement to coordinate tsunami relief with
the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He did not
specify a date before the large donor group, saying only that
the two sides were "very close to signature." In private
conversation with the Ambassador after the larger meeting,
however, Helgesen said that "the President wants to sign
after I have left the country, and she wants me to leave
tonight." He then confirmed that the joint mechanism should

be signed on June 24. Relief, Reconstruction and
Rehabilitation Director General Harim Peiris will sign for
the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL); Norwegian Ambassador
Brattskar will then carry a copy of the agreement to
Kilinochchi for the LTTE signature.

--------------
NO CHANGES FOR MUSLIMS
--------------


3. (C) Helgesen confirmed that he had a stormy session with
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader Rauff Hakeem, who
wanted to renegotiate parts of the agreement to give Muslims
a greater voice. Helgesen told him that was not possible.
Helgesen told donors the important thing for Muslims would be
to decide on their representatives for the various
committees, and that the GSL and the LTTE have already been
thinking about their representatives.

--------------
NOW COMES THE HARD PART
--------------


4. (C) In general, Helgesen said, the focus now needs to be
on implementation of the agreement. We need to avoid the
situation which developed after the signing of the Ceasefire
Agreement, when the two sides agreed to set up a
"Subcommittee on Immediate Humanitarian Needs" (SIHRN), only
to see that commitment collapse amidst bureaucratic
bickering, he said. The objective now will be to get "quick
funding for quick projects."

--------------
COMMON FUND READY TO GO
--------------


5. (C) In line with this, World Bank Director Peter Harrold
said at the same gathering that although the Bank has not yet
been formally requested by both sides to set up a Common
Fund, it has prepared all of the paperwork. In fact, the EC
and Australia have already indicated that they have monies
ready to contribute to the Fund. With regard to non-Fund
monies, the role of the joint mechanism will be largely to
decide on priorities for funding. It was noted that most
donor and NGO funds are already committed and MOUs signed, so
incremental funds to be apportioned through the mechanism
will be limited.


6. (C) Helgesen said that besides implementation of the
joint mechanism, the focus now needs to be on strengthening
the ceasefire. The joint mechanism and the ceasefire can be
synergistic; an efficient joint mechanism can strengthen the
ceasefire and vice versa. The converse also holds--if the
joint mechanism flops, the ceasefire will come under more
pressure, and if the ceasefire is violated, it will be more
difficult to implement the joint mechanism. Helgesen added
that he had raised the issue of ceasefire violations with the
LTTE during his visit to Kilinochchi on June 22.

--------------
PUTTING THE MECHANISM IN (AS A ) MOTION
--------------


7. (U) Responding to a question posed by Janatha Vimukthi
Peramuna (JVP) MP Wimal Weerawansa in Parliament on June 23,
Leader of the House and River Basin Development Minister
Maitripala Sirisena said that the government will bring the
joint mechanism as an adjournment motion for debate in
Parliament on June 24. (Note: There is no vote on an
adjournment motion.) Sirisena reportedly sidestepped a
direct follow-up question from Weerawansa on whether the
joint mechanism would be signed before, during or after the
debate in Parliament, responding only that the agreement
"might be" signed at some point on June 24. Trade Minister
Jeyaraj Fenandopoulle offered no greater illumination on the
subject when he interjected that all details would be
revealed to Parliament on June 24. (Note: The pro-LTTE
Tamil National Alliance, as well as the United National
Party, the main opposition party, have urged the government
not to bring the agreement to Parliament for debate before
signing it. End note.)

--------------
JVP TO CALL OUT UNIONS,
RAISE BLACK FLAGS
--------------


8. (SBU) According to JVP sources, the party is planning an
islandwide walk-out of all its affiliated trade and labor
unions in the private and public sectors on June 24 to
protest the joint mechanism. Affected sectors could include
petroleum, electricity, the postal system, railways, and
buses, among others. Union members aligned with the Marxist
nationalist party, which quit its alliance with the
government on June 16 to protest the joint mechanism, are
being asked to raise black flags to signal opposition to the
proposed agreement.

--------------
COMMENT
--------------


9. (C) Things could still fall apart, but absent some
cataclysmic change, the joint mechanism will finally be
signed on June 24. Helgesen is exactly right; the tough part
will be in getting the mechanism to work. The two sides are
like an engaged couple--focusing on the wedding day and
forgetting that they have to live together afterwards.
Nonetheless, if all goes as planned, June 24 will be a
momentous day. The joint mechanism will be the first
agreement of any sort that President Kumaratunga, who ran for
office 11 years ago as the peace candidate, will have signed
with the LTTE. Now if she can only make it work.
LUNSTEAD