|06COLOMBO131||2006-01-23 05:44:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Colombo|
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 000131
1. (C) Summary. Jayantha Dhanapala told U/S Burns that
the security situation in Sri Lanka "looks bad," but that
President Rajapaksa remains patient and is committed to a
non-military solution. He agreed with Burns that Iranian
behavior in the IAEA is unacceptable but cautioned that Sri
Lanka will have to see the resolution text at the early
February meeting before deciding its vote (and would prefer
consensus). Dhanapala and Burns found common ground on the
UN reform process and Burns assured Dhanapala that the U.S.
has made no decision on its position regarding the next UN
Secretary General. End Summary
2. (C) U/S Burns met with former Peace Secretariat chief
and UNSYG aspirant Jayantha Dhanapala January 22 at the
Ambassador's residence in Colombo. The Ambassador and DCM
(notetaker) sat in.
3. (C) Turning first to the tattered ceasefire in Sri Lanka,
Burns asked Dhanapala what the U.S. could do to help.
Dhanapala said the U.S. position of firmness as reflected in
various statements and in the Ambassador's recent speech to
the American Chamber of Commerce were very helpful to the
government. The U.S. refusal to engage with the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and its longstanding listing of
the LTTE as a foreign terrorist organization also helped the
government. Dhanapala said the GSL hoped that the U.S. and
other nations would do more to investigate financial flows to
the Tigers from their nations. Burns said the U.S. was
taking a close look at the fundraising issue and that he
would be commenting on it publicly while in Colombo.
4. (C) Asked how worried he was about a return to war,
Dhanapala said "very, it looks bad." He opined that it is
hard to see the movement of LTTE supporters out of Jaffna
along with "chatter" the GSL has picked up as anything other
than war preparation. In his view, the LTTE wants to try to
retake the Jaffna peninsula while perhaps also making a move
on the harbor at Trincomalee. Dhanapala said he fully
expects the LTTE to undertake attacks in Colombo, especially
if the Solheim visit does not lead to some resolution on the
venue for ceasefire talks. But, Dhanapala noted, President
Rajapaksa remains patient and willing to talk, a position
that is not easy to maintain with his southern political
allies "now that bodybags are coming south again."
Losing Patience on Iran
5. (C) Burns asked for Dhanapala's perspective on the
Iranian nuclear issue given Sri Lanka's presence on the IAEA
Board of Governors. "Our patience is running out," Dhanapala
replied. "The Iranians are not helping themselves." Sri
Lanka fully supports the February 2 special session in Vienna
but will want to see the text of the resolution before
deciding whether to vote yes or to abstain ("obviously we
hope consensus can be reached"). He noted many Non-Aligned
Movement (NAM) members are now developing "serious
reservations" about Iranian behavior on the nuclear issue.
Burns briefed Dhanapala on the U.S. position and intentions,
especially efforts to get P-5 unity. Dhanapala noted that
the Iranian ambassador had recently met with President
Rajapaksa but he did not yet have a readout on the meeting.
United Nations Reform/Dhanapala Candidacy for UNSYG
COLOMBO 00000131 002 OF 002
6. (C) Burns briefed Dhanapala on U.S. efforts and views on
UN reform, noting that the pace of reform is too slow. He
also reviewed U.S. Congressional reservations about the UN.
Dhanapala agreed on the need to accelerate the reform process
as well as eliminate obsolete institutions like the
trusteeship council. He agreed with Burns that the
Peacebuilding Council (PBC) is a very useful idea ("we may
need it here!"). Turning to the proposed Human Rights
Council, Dhanapala told Burns that the U.S. decision not to
insist on automatic P-5 membership was a "big concession"
that would help move the process forward. He cautioned that
the 2/3 requirement for Human Rights Council membership would
not necessarily keep gross human rights violators off the
council but agreed with Burns that it would certainly make it
more difficult for them.
7. (C) Turning to Dhanapala's candidacy for UNSYG, Burns
asked if he thought he could lead a reform-minded movement in
the UN over the next few years. Dhanapala said he could,
especially on economic and social issues. He noted, for
example, that human rights issues had become too focused on
politics in the sense that the emphasis was on votes rather
than on broad-based UN-led efforts to improve human rights
where they were deficient. "The commission process was
Geneva-centric and didn't really improve human rights in the
field." The United Nations, Dhanapala continued, needed to
make a "much bigger impact on human rights." The commission
has been discredited, he said, through practices like letting
the most egregious cases be discussed in camera when "they
needed to be discussed in the light of day."
8. (C) On UN management issues, Dhanapala said he had
recently met with Under SYG for Management Burnham and had
agreed with him that there is too much "dead wood" in the UN
system. The promotion system is too rigid and is not based
on an evaluation process. "The UN should be a meritocracy
but it is not," Dhanapala concluded. Dhanapala agreed with
Burns that peacekeeping operations (PKO) desperately need
reform and that sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers in Africa had
been a stain on the UN.
9. (C) Turning to a replacement for Kofi Annan, Burns told
Dhanapala that the United States has made no commitments and
has an "open mind." He noted that the Thai and South Korean
candidates were campaigning hard. Dhanapala said he planned
to be in Washington in April and would like to call on Burns
then. Burns welcomed the idea and urged that Dhanapala also
make calls on Capitol Hill, especially on Senator Norm
Coleman and Congressman Henry Hyde.
10. (U) U/S Burns cleared this cable.