|07COLOMBO304||2007-02-20 13:56:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Colombo|
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: With Department concurrence, Post plans to sign an
Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA) with the government
of Sri Lanka on or about February 28, 2007. Because of the risk
that the agreement could be misconstrued by local parties pursuing
domestic political agendas, Embassy proposes limiting media coverage
to an official photographer and a press release by our Public
Affairs section. End Summary.
2. (SBU) Sri Lanka, positioned astride major sea lanes and at the
doorstep to India, can play a significant role in military readiness
as political and military efforts shift focus on Asia in the new
millennium. Since 2002, USPACOM and Embassy Colombo have sought to
enter into an ACSA with the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL).
3. (SBU) Efforts by USPACOM and Embassy's Office of Defense
Cooperation, working with a new Sri Lankan administration dedicated
to prosecuting a domestic anti-terror campaign, have now produced a
ten-year agreement. The signing will expand DoD's capacity and
capability to conduct global operations by adding another logistical
option in South Asia, which ultimately reduces cost and provides
flexibility to U.S. forces moving through the region.
4. (SBU) There is, however, some risk of internal political players
misconstruing both the reach and the purpose of the agreement. Sri
Lankan nationalists have often mischaracterized ACSA as a basing
agreement to allow U.S. forces a bastion within easy reach of Muslim
republics in Central Asia. Further, both pro-government and
pro-insurgent factions could brand it as an arms agreement in
support of the current military campaign against the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Human rights activists may
mis-construe the agreement as tacit USG endorsement of the human
rights abuses that have been committed by Sri Lankan military forces
in the past year.
5. (SBU) Since this agreement primarily benefits U.S. forces, we
think there are strong arguments to proceed with signing the
agreement. Because of the risk that some of the political players
mentioned in para 4 might mis-characterize or leak news of the
signing, we recommend the Department of State approve a short
signing ceremony between the Ambassador and the Sri Lankan Defense
Secretary with an official photographer, but no other press. The
Embassy would plan to release the attached statement following the
6. (U) Below is the text of the proposed press release:
U.S. & Sri Lanka Sign Mutual Services Pact
Colombo ? February 28, 2007: Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Gothabaya
Rajapaksa and U.S. Ambassador Robert Blake signed a ten-year
logistical agreement strengthening ties between the two countries
and providing a framework for increased interoperability. The
Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) will allow the
United States and Sri Lanka to transfer and exchange logistics
supplies, support, and re-fueling services, either in kind or at a
reduced cost, during peacekeeping missions, humanitarian operations
and joint exercises. The United States has ACSA agreements with 89
other countries around the world.
The categories of allowable goods and services include food,
petroleum, and transportation. The provision of weapons systems or
ammunition is expressly prohibited under this agreement. Each
nation's forces can support the other during contingencies, such as
disaster relief or peacekeeping operations, which reduces the
logistics requirement for each nation.
Logistics support allowed under this agreement cannot be transferred
beyond the forces of the receiving party without consent of the
providing party. The agreement will be in effect for ten years, and
all transactions must be mutually agreed upon before any transfer is
"ACSA will facilitate the exchange of non-lethal equipment, increase
cooperation in the field and reduce the paperwork involved,"
Ambassador Blake said. "For example, if the Sri Lankan Army had sent
troops to assist in the Pakistani earthquake and needed winter coats
for the soldiers, under ACSA the United States could provide those
winter coats in exchange for fuel and foodstuffs the next time a
U.S. vessel made a port call in Colombo. On-the-ground cooperation
between our two armed forces was evident in the aftermath of the
tsunami disaster. This will enhance both nations' ability to engage
in disaster relief and peacekeeping missions more effectively," he
added. "We have ACSA agreements with numerous countries around the
world," he explained. "This brings Sri Lanka into the same category.
It increases our ability to work smoothly together."