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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06COLOMBO1909 2006-11-14 12:52:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Colombo
Cable title:  

SRI LANKA: SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS STAFF

Tags:   PREL PTER PHUM MOPS CE 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 001909 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/14/2016
TAGS: PREL PTER PHUM MOPS CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS STAFF
ASSISTANT LUSE MEETS GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL LEADERS

REF: COLOMBO 1896

Classified By: Ambassador Robert O. Blake, Jr., for reasons 1.4(b,d).



1. (SBU) Keith Luse, Professional Staff Assistant to Senate
Foreign Relations Committee Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN),
visited Colombo November 9-10 to assess country team
coordination on military issues and explore the security
environment through meetings with prominent Sri Lankans. In
meetings outside of the embassy, government and civil leaders
emphasized the importance of the US-Sri Lanka bilateral
relationship in seeking a political solution to the conflict.
Mr. Luse met with Acting Foreign Secretary Geetha de Silva,
Sri Lanka Army Engineers Brigadier Chrishanta de Silva (no
relation), Foundation for Co-Existence Director Dr. Kumar
Rupasinghe, and leading defense analyst and CNN correspondent
Iqbal Athas.

Government Lauds US Support


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





2. (C) Ambassador de Silva expressed thanks to Mr. Luse for
U.S. support for the Government of Sri Lanka's (GSL) "dual
tactics in fighting Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
terrorism," by helping to support the military while
encouraging the LTTE to engage in political negotiations.
She noted that the GSL has an "intense desire to sit down and
talk with the LTTE" and that the international community had
persuaded the Tigers to go to peace talks in Geneva October
28-29 unconditionally. "Of course then they kept focusing on
the A-9," she lamented, highlighting the Tigers' demand that
the land route to the Jaffna peninsula through
LTTE-controlled territory be reopened. Likewise, Brigadier
de Silva, who directs the Sri Lanka Army's U.S.-trained
humanitarian demining unit, lauded the U.S. for training the
military to become a professional, apolitical security force.



3. (SBU) Mr. Luse expressed support for the GSL's struggle
against the terrorist LTTE but emphasized transparency and
human rights, noting "Someday this conflict will be over.
Reconciliation between the communities will be connected to
the behavior of both sides during the conflict. It will be
helpful for the GSL to be able to emphasize that it acted
only defensively."

Civil Society Laments Loss of Political Space


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





4. (C) Dr. Kumar Rupasinghe, director of the leading
Foundation for Co-Existence think tank, expressed far less
faith in the GSL's commitment to a political solution than
did Ambassador de Silva. Speaking to Mr. Luse on the morning
of pro-LTTE Member of Parliament Nadarajah Raviraj's murder
in Colombo, Rupasinghe worried that "the net is closing even
on political figures in Colombo." He claimed that "the
President has lost control" and that "the Defense Secretary
(President Rajapaksa's brother Gotabaya) and the defense
establishment are determined to pursue a military course of
action." Rupasinghe said he believed elements of the
government were in collusion with the LTTE-breakaway Karuna
faction and were involved in a series of abductions in
Colombo and the east (reftel). He agreed with Mr. Luse that
a public statement from Senator Lugar addressing human rights
concerns in Sri Lanka could be helpful. The FCE director
asked that the U.S. provide funding for a "major
peace-building campaign" that could send a vibrant message of
reconciliation through television and radio.



5. (C) Defense analyst Iqbal Athas (protect) lunched with Mr.
Luse on November 10. Like Kumar Rupasinghe, he expressed
deep concern over Sri Lanka's human rights environment and
contended that the political leadership had lost control of
the military. He said that the defense establishment makes
decisions without consultation and that, in some cases,

COLOMBO 00001909 002 OF 002


ground commanders do not answer to their superiors. Athas, a
former International Visitors Program grantee, asked that
Senator Lugar use his influence to support a negotiated
settlement to the conflict.

Consistent Message


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





6. (SBU) Comment: All of Mr. Luse's interlocutors thanked
the U.S. Government for its support of the Sri Lankan people.
Despite the differing and predictable perspectives of
government authorities and civil leaders, all interlocutors
emphasized the continued need for the U.S. and the
international community to promote the peace process. End
Comment.



7. (U) Mr. Luse did not have an opportunity to clear this
cable.
BLAKE