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06COLOMBO2037 2006-12-10 04:06:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Colombo
Cable title:  

HANSSEN-BAUER RETURNS EMPTY HANDED FROM

Tags:   PREL PTER PGOV CE 
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1. (C) Summary: In a readout to Co-Chair Ambassadors the
evening of December 8, Norwegian Special Envoy Jon
Hanssen-Bauer reported that the LTTE had refused all four
initiatives proposed the Government of Sri Lanka, including
the idea of holding peace talks as soon as possible. The
LTTE responded they have little faith in the international
community, the Norwegian facilitation effort or the Sri Lanka
Monitoring Mission since none of these have been able to keep
the GSL to the commitments it has made. Hanssen-Bauer
characterized the impasse as a major crisis. Co-Chair
Ambassadors agreed to recommend that Washington convene a
Co-Chair conference call the week of December 11 to discuss
next steps. End Summary.

LTTE Stiffs Norwegians on Four Proposals


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





2. (C) Hanssen-Bauer briefed that the GSL had asked him to
convey four proposals to the LTTE: 1) the GSL seeks LTTE
agreement to open the A-9 road for a one-time humanitarian
convoy; 2) the GSL would like the LTTE to stop intimidating
private retail shop owners in Jaffna so they can open for
business and help relieve the food distribution problem; 3)
the GSL wants the LTTE to cooperate in creating a safehaven
for internally displaced persons in the Vakarai area; and 4)
the GSL would like to resume peace talks as soon as possible,
conceivably as early as late December.



3. (C) Hanssen-Bauer said his LTTE interlocutors rejected
all four proposals. They told the Special Envoy they have
little faith in the international community, the Norwegian
facilitation effort or the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission since
none of these have been able to keep the GSL to the
commitments it has made. They complained that the political
path had achieved nothing. They insisted the sequence for
any resumption of talks must be that all violence should
cease since it is impossible to hold talks while the
cease-fire agreement is being violated. Hanssen-Bauer said
he pressed the LTTE on the A-9 opening, but the LTTE doggedly
insisted they would only accept a complete reopening. On the
Vakarai safehaven, the LTTE had no substantive comment except
to complain about the "GSL military offensive" there.
Hanssen-Bauer drew the LTTE's attention to the completion of
the Expert Committee Reports on power-sharing proposals
(septel) as a positive step forward. The LTTE had no
response. Instead, Hassen-Bauer said, the LTTE kept coming
back to the need for a cease-fire and normalcy before talks
could begin.

What Next?


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





4. (C) Hanssen-Bauer related that he pointedly told the LTTE
there was no point in him shuttling back and forth to
Kilinochchi if such visits were not going to produce any
positive results or a way forward. He told them he can't
take initiatives unless the two sides are ready for such
initiatives.



5. (C) On his return to Colombo, Hanssen-Bauer briefed
Peace Secretariat Director Kohona on the results of his talks
with the LTTE. Kohona immediately responded that the
Government is ready for a ceasefire. Hanssen-Bauer responded
that he had heard from other well-placed GSL officials that
this was not so and that in fact the Sri Lankan military
wanted to press its military advantage. He told Kohona he

COLOMBO 00002037 002 OF 002


would need assurances from the highest levels of the military
establishment that the military is ready for a true ceasefire
before Norway will take such assurances back to the LTTE.



6. (C) In the ensuing discussion among the Co-Chair
Ambassadors, opinions were divided. EU Head of Mission
Wilson opined that whatever Kohona may say, the GSL is not
ready for a real ceasefire. The GSL's objective, he
maintained, is to take advantage of the Supreme Court
demerger decision to "pacify" the east, wipe out the LTTE
there and force all their personnel operations to the north.
He suggested that perhaps the Co-Chairs should consider an
ultimatum such as that issued by key Western leaders in
Bosnia to the effect "We do not believe either of you are
serious. When you are ready to engage seriously, you have
our number." The German Ambassador agreed and wondered
whether all Co-Chair Ambassadors should be recalled for
consultations. The Japanese Ambassador had already departed
by that point for another engagement.



7. (C) Ambassador responded that he did not believe the
situation had deteriorated to the point where Bosnia-like
measures should be considered. Nor should Ambassadors be
recalled. The Government had offered a ceasefire. The
Co-Chairs should take them at their word by getting the
President to reaffirm the GSL is indeed ready for a true
ceasefire. A Co-Chair decision to check out of the process
now would only encourage further fighting and the loss of
many more innocent lives. Co-Chair Ambassadors finally
agreed the situation was serious enough to warrant a
discussion by Co-Chair capitals. Ambassador undertook to
suggest that Washington convene a conference call in the
middle or later part of the week of December 11 to discuss
next steps.

Comment and Action Request


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





8. (C) Ambassador recommends that U/S Burns or A/S Boucher
agree to convene the recommended call. While the situation
is indeed very serious on many fronts, we still have a small
opening to get the President to commit to a real ceasefire.
If he does, and the LTTE reciprocates, we can thereby give a
chance to the power-sharing process to succeed. The Experts
Committee has done its job by coming up with two very
detailed and far-reaching power-sharing proposals that will
now be discussed and debated with the All Parties Committee.
Ambassador will meet with the head of that Committee on
December 11 to hear his gameplan and urge rapid progress.
BLAKE